Help your teen beat pesky pimples

By Drum Digital
23 June 2015

Most parents want their kids to go through life with confidence, but sometimes things like acne creep up and damage their self-esteem.

Skin problems are unfortunately part and parcel of being a teen but there are ways and means of sorting out those spots. Check out our expert advice.

Remind them they’re are not alone! “About 80 percent of teens struggle with some form of acne,” Cape Town dermatologist Dr Ian Webster says, explaining it’s because they’ve reached puberty and are undergoing hormonal changes. “Genetic factors and your hormone levels play the biggest role,” he adds.

How to keep zits at bay: “Some skin problems require an expert’s help and others you can sort out yourself,” says Cape Town beautician Melissa Frantz. The following are the most common skin problems teens experience:

Dry skin: Choose a cream-based face wash, Dr Webster recommends. Melissa agrees and says younger skins are sensitive so benefit from organic rather then chemical cleansing products. “Also drink enough water and use a fragrance-free moisturiser,” Dr Webster advises. Melissa says you should use more moisturiser in winter than in summer because the cold air can deplete your skin of moisture.

White and blackheads: A common problem, Dr Webster recommends a face cream with vitamin A and says you can also ask your chemist or doctor about creams that are specially formulated to prevent white and blackheads. Melissa says that unlike other pimples white and blackheads should be removed. “See a skin therapist and ask for a blackhead extraction facial.”

Oily skin: Try a facial wash that foams, says Dr Webster says. “If you want to solve the problem from the inside, medication with Isotretinoin, such as Oratane or Roaccutane is useful, or hormone treatments such as a contraceptive for girls.” Melissa also recommends a gel-based face wash.

A single visible pimple: Resist the temptation to squeeze or pick at it. “If you constantly pick at it you cause the bacteria to spread to other parts of your face and cause more pimples,” Dr Webster says. “If you have to squeeze it make sure your hands or whatever you’re using are sterile.” Melissa suggests applying an ointment to reduce the redness and inflammation.

Serious acne “There are enough treatments out there so no one has to suffer permanent damage as a result of acne,” Dr Webster says. “Visit your doctor or dermatologist and get expert help before you’re left with ugly scars.”

Tips for boys who’ve started to shave: Boys with curly hair are more prone to getting pimples after they’ve shaved, Dr Webster says. “These pimples are sometimes confused with acne, but after you’ve shaved the hairs curl and pierce the skin, causing inflammation.” Melissa recommends having a face peel once a week and using a scrub. “You can make your own by mixing brown sugar with a little coconut or grape seed oil,” she says. Dr Webster also advises using a clean, sharp razor blade and an antibacterial cream.

Eat properly for a healthy skin: Although your hormones play the biggest role a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can cause your skin to produce more sebum (oil), which causes acne to flare up, Dr Webster says. Too much milk, especially skimmed milk, can also exacerbate a skin problem.

Do it naturally: Both experts agree that in addition to medication and specially formulated products you can also try some natural options.

  • Brief spells in the sun can reduce serious acne.
  • A zinc or omega 3 supplement can also help.
  • Try making a homemade mask with avocado, yoghurt and eggs.
  • Drink enough water to moisturise you skin.

- Mieke Vlok

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