Skin Care For Teenagers

More than 80 percent of teenagers experience acne, according to the Center for Young Women’s Health at the Children’s Hospital Boston (2007), so many teen skin care tips involve preventing and treating teen acne. However, teens may experience other skin problems, including:

  • Atopic eczema, which causes the skin to be itchy, crusty, red and dry
  • Pityriasis rosea, or pink patchy spots on the skin
  • Tinea versicolor, which causes uneven skin tone and makes skin look scaly.

While mild acne can be treated at home, talk to a dermatologist about serious teen acne or other skin problems.

Teen Acne

A pimple or blemish occurs when oil clogs a pore or hair follicle. The skin’s sebaceous glands produce sebum (oil) that is necessary for healthy, smooth skin. But these glands often go into overdrive during the teen years because of fluctuating hormones, leading to oily skin and acne.

Skin Care for Teens

The first step in skin care for teens is to use a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser to wash your face morning and night. (Non-comedogenic means that the cleanser does not contain ingredients that block pores.) Avoid scrubbing, which only irritates your skin and can make acne worse.

Although it may seem that oily skin doesn’t require a moisturizer, oil and moisture are two different things, and oily skin may still need a moisturizer. The American Academy of Dermatology (2009) recommends a lightweight moisturizer that contains sunscreen. Avoid moisturizers that contain oil.

Teen Acne Prevention and Treatment

Many over-the-counter products are available to fight acne. Benzoyl peroxide is available in creams, lotions and gels, and can kill the bacteria associated with acne. Another common anti-acne ingredient is salicylic acid, which helps unclog pores to treat and prevent blemishes. If any of these products cause an adverse reaction, stop using them.

Other teen skin care tips include:

  • Avoid oily shampoos, hair gels and conditioners. The residue they leave on your hair can cause acne when your hair rubs against your face.
  • Avoid squeezing or popping blemishes. Doing so can cause infection or scarring.
  • If you wear makeup, avoid any cosmetics that contain oil and look for the words “noncomedogenic” or “nonacnegenic” on the product.
  • If you are in an environment where there’s grease in the air (such as a fast food restaurant), that grease can trigger an acne breakout. Wash your face as soon as possible to remove the excess oil.

If home skin care and over-the-counter products aren’t clearing up your acne, you may need to see a dermatologist for more aggressive treatment, which may include:

  • Antibiotics can kill bacteria associated with acne.
  • Corticosteroids are an anti-inflammatory medication that a dermatologist can inject into inflamed pimples and blemishes to help them heal.
  • Topical retinoids help unclog pores and treat mild to moderate acne. If acne is severe and doesn’t improve with other treatments, your doctor may prescribe Accutane