Skin talk with teens: How to address their changing skin at home

Published August 3, 2021, 8:11 AM

by Dr. Kaycee Reyes

The teenage years are also what they call the “awkward phase,” and who wouldn’t agree? From physical changes, such as breasts and body hair, to emotional ones such as changes in behavior, it truly is a period of rapid growth. This is also the time the skin changes so much—body hair starts to grow, body odor develops, and pimples come out. It is overwhelming and scary, especially if the physical changes that they see aren’t really going in their favor—acne, anyone? So as a parent or an adult, how can you help teens cope and manage all these changes?

Adolescence happens at different ages, stages, and paces. Ultimately, these changes in their body and skin can affect their confidence and how they interact with others. Teaching them how to take care of their skin even at a young age not only helps control or solve these skin problems right away, but it is also a good way to instill the importance of skin care and self-care that they can bring into adulthood.

Body odor and sweat develops from puberty because of changes in hormones. It can be an embarrassing time for teens who experience this for the first time. Prepare them by asking them to:
• Shower regularly and wash crucial areas properly with the use of chlorhexidine wash for at least two weeks;
• Use the right products to control sweat and odor such as antiperspirants and deodorants;
• Take probiotics daily;
• Wear moisture-absorbing materials when being active, and alternate shoes to avoid sweat and bacteria from causing foot odor.
• Apply at least 30 percent aluminum chloride with topical antibiotic to the affected area at night (please ask your skin doctor for the right medication and frequency)
• In more serious cases, Botox may be considered to stop excess sweat. This may be discussed with a dermatologist.

Scalp problems can be a hassle too, such as oily skin and dandruff. Advise your teen to:
• Wash hair properly. Frequency depends on the type of hair, as oilier hair needs to be washed more times a week than drier hair that is more sensitive and prone to breakage.
• If dandruff is the issue, wash with special ingredients such as ketoconazole or coal tar shampoo at least three times a week.
• Always brush the hair to untangle, prevent buildup, and keep dandruff at bay.
• If it persists, please ask your doctor regarding the right scalp lotion to be applied and possible oral medication for the right diagnosis

Body hair also becomes apparent during puberty. The hair develops on the legs, arms, armpits, and genitals. It is important to let them know that they can choose to shave, wax, have it lasered, or leave it as it is. Tell them that:
• When shaving, replace razors regularly and shave in the same direction as hair growth.
• When waxing, try it first with a certified professional to know how it goes and how it feels. Supervise your teen and test a small portion of the skin first if waxing is being done at home.
• When using chemical removers, always test a small area of the skin first, and do not leave it for too long as it may irritate the skin.
• When considering lasers, visit a doctor operated laser clinic first for proper assessment, and choose a clinic that is certified and well-trained to perform these treatments. This should be done once a month for at least six to eight sessions. Personally, I think this is the best investment for a person because your children won’t have to shave or wax, which may cause irritation and pigmentation.

From physical changes, such as breasts and body hair, to emotional ones such as changes in behavior, the teenage years are a period of rapid growth.

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Acne is a common skin condition among teens. The skin’s oil glands overproduce sebum, clogging the pores and forming bumps that leads to acne. Since acne has different types and causes, some general rules are:
• To wash with a gentle cleanser every day and to always remove makeup before bed;
• To teach them to read labels and watch out for products that can clog pores or irritate the skin;
• To tell your teen not to prick or pop their pimples on their own as it can make it worse, commonly known as acne excoriate;
• To wear sunscreen at least SPF 30 every day to avoid inflammation.
• Take probiotics and lessen intake of dairy products and refined processed carbohydrates.

At the same time, you may also offer emotional support as going through these changes can be confusing and, at times, frustrating for them.
• Listen to what they want to say or talk about. Avoid judgment and just let them vent their feelings and emotions as they go through this phase.
• Learn by reading about different skin problems that teens face by researching or talking to a dermatologist to be able to teach your teen some basic skin care at home.
• Let them know that you have gone through these changes yourself and share how you were able to cope with it. It is always nice to know that they’re not alone in their struggles.
Dealing with a lot of physical changes (all at once!) can be overwhelming for teens. That is why it is important to be guided by parents or adults accordingly on the right way to manage these. What’s more, introducing your teen to a dermatologist will certainly help him or her understand what is happening to her body and her skin, and to be able address common skin problems early on.