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Acne Advice GuideAcne Advice for Parents – Dr Fox

Acne Advice for Parents

Acne Advice for Parents

Acne is an uncomfortable, often embarrassing condition for teenagers – but it can also be problematic for parents too.

Straddling the fine line between being supportive but not intrusive, sympathetic yet not patronising, is tricky, especially when their self-esteem is already low.

Here are a few practical and sensitive ways to help deal with your teen’s acne, and steer them through this emotionally awkward period.

Support and reassurance

Try and respond to their acne on a similar level to the way they’re dealing with it.  Teens react differently to spots, and for some it’s much worse than others.

For most, however, it will be upsetting to a lesser or greater degree, so make sure you give them support and reassurance about how they look.

Hygiene tips to control acne

Good basic hygiene is always a good start. Make sure your teen washes their faces twice a day – avoiding soaps with chemicals and perfumes, as these can irritate the skin – and dry their face with a clean towel.

Try to keep your teen from picking or squeezing their spots as this can lead to further infection and even scarring.

If you have a son, using an electric razor will help reduce bacteria as opposed to wet shaving.  If you have a daughter, be mindful of the make-up they use, as some types can trigger acne outbreaks whilst others have no effect at all.

The importance of acting early

Dealing with teen acne is critical for two reasons. Firstly, acne left untreated can result in larger spots and may lead to scarring.  Secondly, the quicker you help your teen deal with it, the quicker you can give them the crucial emotional support they need.

Initiating the acne conversation

Talking to a teenager is difficult enough, but broaching the sensitive subject of acne could open a whole can of antagonistic worms – especially if their self-esteem is low to begin with.

One way is to suggest they let you know if their acne gets to a stage where it’s really bothering them, at which point you can go with them to the chemist or make a GP appointment for them.

True, they’ll know their spots are noticeable, but it’s a tactful approach that doesn’t undermine their confidence – plus they’ll probably be secretly pleased you’ve shown support and stepped in to help them deal with it.

Teenage boy with acne problem

Acne solutions

There are plenty of over-the-counter face washes, creams, gels and cover-up make-up to help treat teenage acne. They come in varying strengths so it’s always best to ask for your pharmacist’s advice about which one is best for your teen.

The most popular and effective ingredients for fighting acne are Benzoyl Peroxide and Tea Tree Oil, which work by drying up excess amounts of sebum. Be mindful that they can occasionally have side effects, such as leaving skin red and sore.

Consulting your GP and antibiotics

If your teen’s acne is more severe, you’re better off talking to your GP – and a good one will always take acne seriously and be supportive.

A GP will more than likely prescribe antibiotics in tablet form, although they are also available as a liquid, cream or gel which is applied directly to the spots.

A course of antibiotics can last anywhere between three and six months, although the severity of the acne will determine the length of treatment. The majority of antibiotics yield a noticeable improvement pretty quickly, with the most commonly prescribed antibiotics being Tetracycline and Erythromycin.

If they don’t heal or reduce the acne however, you’ll need to take your teen back to your GP, who may increase the dosage or prescribe a completely different treatment altogether.

You can learn more about the options available from Dr Fox’s acne FAQs.

Severe cases

Occasionally there are times when acne doesn’t respond to regular treatments and antibiotics and may affect your teen in a more severe way.  In these circumstances, your doctor can refer your teen to a hospital specialist who can administer stronger acne medications and monitor them more closely.

In these cases it’s good to attend the appointment with your teen, both to support them and to get a better understanding of what the doctor is talking about, asking any relevant questions along the way.

Acne and diet

The thought prevails that certain foods – chocolate and chips, for example – are more likely to cause spots. However, no particular food or food groups have been identified and proven to cause acne.

The fact is that different people react differently to different foods. To this end, it might be an idea to encourage your teen to keep a food diary, noting any particular changes to their acne.

This might result in them identifying foods which trigger acne and they can then take actions to remove them from their diet.

There will never be a perfect solution to every teen’s acne and it may take a while before you find an effective treatment, but the important thing is to support them along the way. Approaching the issue tactfully and offering to do everything you can to help, will ensure that they don’t feel like they’re fighting the battle alone.