Skincare tips for your tweens and teens

October 14, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Skincare tips for your tweens and teens. Bay Area dermatologist Dr. Marie Jhin shatters the myths behind breakouts!

Skincare tips for tweens and teens:

Adolescent skincare tips - This is a great time for parents to encourage their tweens/teens to take care of their skin and develop good habits that could effect them later. Parents should encourage washing face daily - emphasizing using a gentle cleanser and toner if appropriate and no scubbing. Also shampooing the hair often is important as well. Avoiding wearing too much makeup as well as tight fitting hats or helmets can help prevent clogging pores. This is also a great time to talk to tween/teens about the importance of sunblock and wearing daily sunblock and avoiding tanning booth can prevent future sun damage and skin cancer.

OTC product recommendations - Cetaphil normal to oily cleanser, Cereve gentle cleanser, Skinceutical or Neutrogena ETOH-free toner, Panoxyl foaming wash, Neutrogena clear pore treatment, noncomedogenic sunblock, Stridex pads, OTC hydrocortisone cream

Adolescent acne:

Studies show that during adolescence close to 100% of the population has at least an occasional whitehead, blackhead or pimple - regardless of race or ethnicity. These studies also confirm that acne most frequently occurs between ages of 12 and 20. The likelihood of developing acne is greatest during adolescence because hormone levels become elevated. Elevated hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands, glands that are attached to hair follicles, to produce greater amounts of sebum - an oily substance. An acne lesion (whitehead, blackhead, or pimple) occurs when a hair follicle becomes plugged with the sebum and dead cells.

In most cases, acne begins between the ages of 10 and 13 and usually lasts for 5 to 10 years. In some adolescents, more severe acne follows the development of comedones, reaching a peak 3 to 5 years after the first comedones appear. Adolescent acne commonly disappears between the ages 20 and 25. However, severe acne, also known as nodular acne or cystic acne, may not resolve until 30-plus years of age.

Skin care for acne:

Effective skin care for acne is vital. The biggest secret to keeping acne under control is maintaining healthy skin as much as possible. This means keeping the skin clean and protecting it from sources of damage like sunshine and harsh cosmestics.

1) Cleansing your skin - always use a gentle soap or specialized skin cleaner and wash your face once or twice a day. It is important not to scrub the skin. This will further aggravate the acne. Use a soft cloth to moisten your face and then apply the cleanser to all areas from the hairline to the neck. Rinse the cleanser with plenty of water and pat your face dry with a soft towel.

If you have especially oily skin, you may need to use an astringent or toner. Only apply it to parts of your face that are most oily and discontinue use if your skin becomes irritated.

Hair care is also important part of skin care. Shampoo your hair two or three times a week and try and keep it off your face as much as possible. Washing your hair daily is not necessary unless you have very oily hair.

2) Protect your skin from the sun- many of the medications used to treat acne cause the skin to become more sensitive to sunshine and more vulnerable to burning. The burning can happen very quickly. Always wear sunscreen when outdoors.

3) Choose your makeup with care - the best choice for good skin care for acne is to wear no makeup at all, but if you feel you must wear makeup choose some that will not clog the pores. These products are labeled noncomedogenic, but they may still cause acne in some people. Above all, avoid makeup with an oil base. Read the labels carefully and use sparingly.

4) Avoid touching the skin - as tempting as it may be to squeeze and pop these pimples, don't do it! You are only inviting more trouble because the bacteria which causes pimples will spread. Popping pimples can also lead to permanent scarring. Try to avoid touching your face as much as possible.

Treatment:

Cleaning face - Most mild cases of acne can be controlled at home by gently washing the affected areas and using a topical preparation, such as benzoly peroxide.

What to do for a pimple at home - Over-the-counter acne products can help. Benzoly peroxide, salicylic acid are the most common OTC medications used to treat acne. These medications are available in many forms, such as gels, lotions, creams, soaps or pads. pHisoderm 4-Way Daily Acne Cleanser is a product that works for all skin types. Acne skin care products that clean, tone and fight acne are good because they will help with clogged pores and reduce acne outbreaks. Use hydrocortisone cream to spot treat a big pimple if you have an event the next day.

Generic and Common Brand Names for Over the Counter Topical Acne Medicine

Generic: Benzoyl peroxide cream, gel, lotion, or soap
Common: Clearasil, Fostex, PanOxyl Dryox, Persa-Gel

Generic: Salicylic acid
Common: PROPApH, Stridex, Oxy Night Watch, Clearasil Clearstick Maximum Strength

Generic: Sulfur
Common: Sulpho-Lac Acne Medication, Liquimat, Therac Lotion, Sulmasque

Generic:Benzoyl peroxide and sulfur
Common: Dryox 10S, Dryox 20S 10, Sulfoxyl

Generic: Sulfur and resorcinol
Common: Sulforcin Lotion, Rezamid Lotion, Acnomel Cream

In some people, OTC acne medications may cause side effects such as skin irritation, burning or redness.

Keep in mind that it can take up to 8 weeks before you notice an improvement in your skin. If an OTC acne product doesn't seem to help after 2 months, get advice from a dermatologist.

After sports - clean right after sports with portable salicyclic pads or other cleansing pads. Avoid tight caps or helmets and avoid hair on the face.

Avoiding treatment, can make acne worse and may increase the chance for permanent scars. The ultimate goal of acne therapy is to help clear up the pimples you have and to prevent future breakouts.

When to see a dermatologist:

It's time to see a dermatologist if you any of the following apply below:

1) I am shy, embarrassed and self-conscious about my skin.

2) None of the over-the-counter products and /or remedies I've tried has worked. 3) I am beginning to see scars after acne lesions clear.

4) I have painful, pus-filled lesions in addition to blackheads and whiteheads, and reddened spots on my skin.

5) I have dark skin, and a patch that is darker than my skin appears when my acne lesions clear.

If general, if your child is not responding to home remedies and over-the-counter treatments after one month, it's a good idea to see a dermatologist. Dermatologists have a greater chance for long-term success if treatment is started sooner rather than later. Acne that ranges from moderate to severe typically requires the help of a dermatologist. The good news is that today virtually every case of acne can be controlled.

With so many factors affecting clearance and a multitude of treatment options available, a dermatologist's help can make a difference. Before prescribing treatment, dermatologists consider several factors, including severity of the acne, types of lesions present, co-exisiting conditions, as well as the patient's age, skin type, lifestyle and motivation.

The knowledge gained from considering these factors allows dermatologists to create effective individualized therapy that will resolve the patient's acne over time and prevent new lesions from forming.

Acne responds especially well to early treatment. Dermatologists recommend that acne be treated early to maximize effectiveness as well as help prevent scarring.

Acne myths:

1) Acne is caused by poor hygiene. Lack of cleanliness is not the reason for outbreaks of acne. Blackheads are not "dirt". They are a mixture of sebum and dead skin cells trapped in pores where it is impossible to clean them away. When exposed to air, they turn black. If you believe this myth and wash your skin hard and frequently, you can actually make your acne worse. Acne is not caused by dirt or surface skin oils. Although excess oils, dead skin and a day's accumulation of dust on the skin looks unsightly, they should not be removed by hand scrubbing. Vigorous washing and scrubbing will actually irritate the skin and make acne worse. The best approach to hygiene and acne: gently wash your face twice a day with a mild soap, pat dry - and use appropriate acne treatment for the acne.

2) Acne is caused by eating chocolate. There is no scientific evidence for this - studies have shown no statistically significant relationship between eating chocolate and acne. The same holds true of other food associated like potato chips and sugar. It is true, however, that eating too much of these foods is unhealthy and you limiting these foods is always a good idea.

Even though chocolate and French fries do not cause acne, there are some foods which do seem to aggravate it. There seems to be a relationship between mild and acne, and foods high in iodine also seem to cause pimples. Iodine is found in seafood, so those with acne may be advised not to eat too much seafood.

3) Acne is just a cosmetic disease. Yes, acne does affect the way people look and is not otherwise a serious threat to a person's physical health. However, acne can result in permanent physical scars - plus, acne itself as well as its scars can affect the way people feel about themselves to the point of affecting their lives.

4) You just have to let acne run its course. The truth is, acne can be cleared up. If the acne products you have tried haven't worked, consider seeing a dermatologist. With the products available today, there is no reason why someone has to endure acne or get acne scars.

5) Popping is the best way to get rid of acne pimples. In fact popping pimples may aggravate acne by spreading the bacteria which is causing it. Popping can also lead to scarring which in severe cases can be permanent. This is definitely not the how to get rid of acne.

6) Sunbathing is good for acne. For many years it was believed that bathing in sunlight was an effective way to get rid of acne pimples. Exposure to the sun has the effect of drying out excess oils, so it does in fact have a short-term effect of improving acne. However, the skin quickly becomes accustomed to sun exposure so no long-term benefit is gained. Sun exposure may also damage the skin and increase the chance of skin cancer.

7) Makeup causes acne. Some makeup can clog the pores which is bad for the health of the skin. Cosmetics labeled "noncomedogenic" or "nonacnegenic" are safe to use and some brands may include ingredients which can treat acne.

8) The more acne medicine the better. Some people believe that if their acne gets worse they should use more medicine. Excess use of acne ointments, however, may irritate the skin, and oral medicines can be dangerous if taken in large quantities. Instead of getting rid of acne pimples, they may become worse. Always follow the directions for the acne medications.

Tips for parents:

Talk to you your teen.
The sooner you speak to your teen about his/her acne, the better. Early treatment of acne may help reduce the risk of scarring.

Understand your teen's feelings.
Being affected by acne can be a challenge for teens. It is important for parents to be supportive of what they are going through. Many parents may remember the issues they once faced. Remember to keep in mind that teens may decide to disguise their acne; therefore, take the right action by communicating with them.

Consult a dermatologist.
Take your teen to visit a dermatologist that will examine your teen's acne and provide feedback on the cause, type and severity of it. The dermatologist can recommend medications and skincare regimens that are appropriate based on skin type.

Emphasize good skin care.
Get your teen into positive habits at an early age. It is important to emphasize good skincare habits such as washing your face once daily, moisturizing and using a sunscreen.

Educate yourself.
As a parent, the most important thing you can do to help your teen is to listen and be there for him/her! Educate yourself by understanding the causes of acne and the many treatment options that are available.

Useful websites:

About Dr. Marie Jhin:
She's a graduate of Wellesley College. She received her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College. She completed an internship and residency in Internal Medicine from the New York Presbyterian Hospital receiving a board certification in Internal Medicine. She continued her training as a resident and chief resident in dermatology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Dr. Jhin is a board certified dermatologist and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. She is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgeons, the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery, the San Francisco Dermatological Society, and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. Dr. Jhin is an adjunct Clinical Instructor at Stanford University School of Medicine, as well as a staff member at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and at Sequoia Hospital. Dr. Jhin has appeared in Oprah and Seventeen Magazines, and on the local news stations.


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