teen with head wrapped in towel noticing acne on forehead

Most people will experience acne at some point in their lives, and for teenagers, it can be an especially daunting experience.

Acne is a common skin condition that occurs when pores become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. While it isn’t harmful, acne can cause physical and emotional distress.

If your teen is experiencing acne for the first time, here are six important steps to take.

teen upset over a pimple on her forehead

Talk to a dermatologist

If over-the-counter treatments aren’t working, it’s important to seek professional help.  A dermatologist can prescribe medication that is more powerful than anything you can buy at the store.

They can also guide how to best care for your teenager’s skin and can answer any questions you may have. For instance, your teenager may be using too harsh cleansers which can irritate the skin and cause breakouts.

On the other hand, some teens may be using gentle products but are still struggling with breakouts. In this case, certified dermatologists can provide insight into other possible causes such as hormonal imbalances.

If the condition is severe, they might suggest laser treatment or other in-office procedures.

Encourage healthy habits

While you can’t control everything that causes acne, some lifestyle choices can make a difference. Encourage your teenager to wash their face twice a day with a gentle cleanser, and to avoid harsh scrubbing which can irritate the skin.

It’s also important to have them use an oil-free sunscreen every day, even if they don’t plan on spending time in the sun.

Excessive sun exposure can make acne worse, so it’s important to protect the skin even on cloudy days. In addition, encourage your teenager to eat a healthy diet and to get enough sleep.

These lifestyle choices can help reduce stress levels, which can in turn help improve skin health.

Create a skincare routine

If your teenager doesn’t have a skincare routine, now is the time to create one. In addition to washing their face twice a day, they should also use a daily moisturizer and spot treatment as needed.

There are a variety of over-the-counter treatments available, or your dermatologist can prescribe something more powerful.

Of course, everyone’s skin is different, so what works for one person may not work for another.

Encourage your teenager to experiment with different products until they find ones that work for them. Maybe they’ll need to use a different cleanser in the morning than at night, or they may need to apply a spot treatment before bed.

The key is to be patient and to find a routine that works.

Pay attention to diet

If you notice that your teenager’s breakouts seem to be linked to certain foods or activities, encourage them to make changes accordingly.

For instance, if they notice that their skin breaks out after eating dairy, they may want to cut back on or eliminate dairy from their diet.

Likewise, eating foods that are high in sugar or saturated fat can trigger breakouts, so a balanced diet is important for clear skin. This means eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limiting processed foods.

On the other hand, some people find that their skin improves when they eat more foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish or flaxseed. 

Limit stress

Stress can make acne worse, so it’s important to encourage your teenager to find ways to relax and de-stress. This might include yoga, meditation, or simply spending time outdoors. In addition, regular exercise can help reduce stress levels and improve overall health.

This is because exercise helps to release endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects and can help alleviate stress.

Additionally, try to create a calm environment at home and avoid putting too much pressure on your teenager. This can help reduce stress levels and promote healthy skin.

Avoid picking at the skin

Picking at or popping pimples can make them worse and lead to scars. It’s important to resist the urge to pick, and instead, let the pimple run its course.

If your teenager is finding it difficult to leave their skin alone, suggest that they try to distract themselves with other activities or use a spot treatment.

For instance, they might try reading, talking on the phone, or listening to music when they feel the urge to pick. By keeping their hands busy, they’ll be less likely to touch their face.

Acne is a common but frustrating problem, especially for teenagers.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there are some steps you can take to help your teenager get clear skin.

These include encouraging healthy habits, creating a skincare routine, paying attention to diet, limiting stress, and avoiding picking at the skin.

With some patience and trial and error, you can help your teenager find what works for them and get rid of acne for good.