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Helping your teen through acne
Every parent just wants their child to be happy. When they’re going through acne, you can often feel helpless.
You just want it to go away and for them to see how beautiful they really are.
It can be difficult to know what to do or say to make them feel better.
So, we’ve put together some ways that you can help your teenager get through acne.
How to talk about it
Let them lead the conversation. As you probably already know, most teenagers don’t like being told what to do. 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 can make them feel labelled. 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.
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 try praising 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, when they’re upset. Just giving them a hug and agreeing that ‘yes, it’s hard having acne and I’m sorry you’re going through it’ is 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 (if they’ll let you!) 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 blemished and that perfect skin doesn’t exist for anyone. You might also want to consider reducing their time on social media (if it doesn’t cause too many arguments!) – there are parental control apps where you can limit the amount of time your kids spend on certain apps through your phone.
What else can you do?
If you haven't already, take them to the GP –if your teen’s acne is persistent and over the counter treatments and creams aren’t working, a trip to your GP is a good idea. They can prescribe anti-biotics, other medications and topical treatments as well as the contraceptive pill for women, which can help manage acne as well.
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 is a great primer under make-up. Just ensure that they always remove their make-up properly every evening using a gentle cleanser/ face wash and warm water.
Help them persevere with treatments – it can be tempting to give up after a few days if something isn’t giving instant results, but many acne treatments take a few weeks to work.
Discourage them from squeezing spots. As tempting as it can be to get involved in popping your teen’s pimples, 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 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.