Every parent just wants their child to be happy. When they’re going through acne, it can often feel like nothing you say or do will help the situation.
You wish there was a way you could take it all away from them, and allow them to see just how amazing they are. But quite often it's never as simple as you'd like it to be, and it's difficult to know how to approach the situation in a way that offers support without over-stepping the line.
So, we’ve put together some ways that you can support your teenager if they're experiencing acne or breakouts.
How to talk about it
Let them lead the conversation. Allowing them a little more authority over the situation might help them feel more in control of their acne, such as asking them ‘what do you think might help?’ and seeing what they would like to try next.
Choose your language carefully. The word 'acne' or 'spots' can sometimes carry a lot of negative connotations, which might agitate them. Instead, try choosing words like 'blemishes' or 'complexion' when you're talking to them about their skin.
Avoid pointing out when the acne is worse. They will know if their skin has flared up and sometimes it's best just to wait for them to come to you, to talk about it.
Don't make assumptions about how they feel. It might be that having spots is a bit annoying for them, but it's not keeping them up at night or making them depressed. It has the potential to make them feel worse about their skin if they hear from those closest that having acne is a negative attribute. Go in to the conversation with an open mind and really listen to how they feel.
How can you help them feel better?
Compliment other things they are doing. Sometimes telling someone how beautiful they are (even though you mean well) can cause them to get frustrated if they don’t believe it themselves. Instead, give them praise about their school work, their personality or the way they’ve handled something – just letting them know you’re proud of them and building up their self-esteem in other areas of their life can help draw the focus away from their skin.
Help them stay active. Exercising and getting out of the house is so important for their mental health, and can help them not to fixate as much on their skin.
Acknowledge their feelings - it’s human nature to try and make someone feel better by pointing out the positives such as ‘it will get better, this is just a phase’ or ‘it’s really not as bad as you think it is.’ This can be helpful, but sometimes people just need to have their feelings acknowledged. Giving them a hug and agreeing that ‘yes, it’s hard having acne and I’m sorry you’re going through it’ might be what they need to hear. As much as you want to protect them, you can’t control them being upset, but you can choose how you respond to it.
Teach them about skin positivity. Skin positivity is thinking about your skin in a way that makes you feel good about yourself. This can be different for everyone, but helping your teen think about their acne in a different way could have a big impact on how they’re feeling –here is an article with some skin positivity tips which might help.
Remind them not to compare themselves to images on social media, as it’s not a true reflection of reality. Talk to them about who they’re following on Instagram and make sure they know just how edited so many of these photos and videos can be. This article – ‘Flawless skin isn't real’ might be helpful for them to read. Suggest other people to follow who are more skin positive - here is a great list of skin positive influencers they could follow. They could also follow 47 Skin on Instagram, where we always post skin positive content and have a great community of people who have suffered with acne (@47skin). Just seeing other people with acne and unfiltered images of real skin can help them realise they’re not the only one with blemishes and that perfect skin doesn’t exist for anyone.
What else can you do?
If you haven't already, take them to the GP – if your teen’s acne is persistent, speaking to a GP is a good way to find a solution that works for them.
Make-up can be extremely helpful (for both boys and girls) in helping to boost their confidence and help them feel more comfortable while their acne is healing. Applying something underneath to help protect their skin from bacteria is also a good idea – 47 Skin Anti-Blemish & Scar Repair Serum kills bacteria and leaves skin hydrated and glowing. Just ensure that they always remove their make-up properly using a gentle cleanser/ face wash and warm water.
Help them persevere with treatments or products – it can be tempting to give up after a few days if something isn’t showing instant results, but many acne treatments take a few weeks to work.
Discourage them from squeezing spots. As tempting as it can be, it’s not a good idea. It can cause permanent scarring, which is much more difficult to treat than the acne itself.
When someone you love is going through acne, it can be a difficult time for you, and for them.
Just remember that the vast majority of acne cases, especially amongst teenagers, will go with the right products or treatment and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
You’re doing your best just by being there for them, and that means everything.