'What-to-do' for problematic Teenage Skin by Dr AJ Sturnham
As a GP and a skin specialist, I look after many teenagers who come to see me about their health concerns. I am passionate about empowering and educating teenagers, so that they understand and feel in control of their skin health. I also encourage parents to get their children into good skincare habits from a young age. The trends for health these days are very much focused on ‘prevention’. Rather than waiting for things to go wrong and then working hard to repair and heal, by initiating healthy steps into your child’s daily routine, you can help them to keep their skin and their bodies healthier, as they approach adulthood.
Dermatology clinics are often thought of as places to go when you have severe skin disease, such as acne or eczema. Many parents don’t want to bother their GP with minor skin concerns and certainly our NHS clinics don’t have the funding or capacity to deal with such matters. As a result however, there is a huge void and gap in care and support and many teenagers are forced to turn to the internet and social media to learn about their skin and how to look after it.
I encourage many of my patients to bring their teenagers in to see me. Having a consultation and examination can be a great way to help young men and women to understand their skin and to learn how they can responsibly look after and protect their skin going into adulthood.
I talk through hormonal skin changes and how these can be addressed. We also talk about the importance of wearing daily UV protection, to reduce the risk of skin cancer and damage as well as looking at moles and understanding the signs to look out for, for skin cancer risk factors. The consultation is a great opportunity for skin ‘myth busting’ too. I am always amazed by some of the things my young patients are trying on their skin, having watched a guide on YouTube or hearing from a friend at school.
We need to make Dermatology and skin clinics much more accessible for the younger generation. Skin specialists shouldn’t be reserved simply for those with severe skin disease. Clinics should be a place where teenagers feel comfortable and safe and able to learn and be empowered to take control of their own skin’s health.
Of course, there will be some clinics that put parents off sending their teenagers for a check-up. Heavily influenced by the world of celebrity and social media, many parents fear that their children will become ‘image-obsessed’ and start moving down the line of wanting aesthetic treatments, once they head through the clinic door. This should certainly not be the case. Do your research and only chose a reputable doctor-led clinic, who has a responsible attitude and ethical approach to managing patient care.
Parents should be welcome to come along to their teenagers’ appointments too. We certainly encourage this at Nuriss clinics. However, many of our young adults do like to be treated as such and opt to come alone. It encourages them to be open and honest about their concerns and builds a strong doctor-patient relationship.
Here are some of my top tips to keep your skin healthy in your teens:
1: Cleanse: Wash with a gentle, nourishing cleanser. Avoid: Foaming products, alcohol, heavily fragranced products, parabens, excessive scrubbing and exfoliation. If you use a cleansing brush, use for a maximum of 60 seconds daily and keep the cleansing heads clean
2: Treat: for acne-prone skin apply a salicylic acid spot treatment over any problem areas
3: Hydrate and Protect: Use an oil free, non-comedogenic moisturiser, to hydrate your skin. Look for nourishing, natural ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Sunflower and Vitamin E. Look for a day cream with added SPF protection (min 30) and use a mineral ingredient such as Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide
4: Make-up: avoid pore clogging liquid make-up, powders and foundation
1: Cleanse: Wash with a gentle, Salicylic acid cleanser at night. This ingredient is lipid soluble, so it seeps into your pores, unblocks them, reduces oil production and kills bacteria
2: Treat: As per morning
3: Hydrate and Repair: Use an oil free, non-comedogenic moisturiser, to hydrate your skin. Look for nourishing, natural ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Sunflower and Vitamin E. Retinoids (vitamin A) are wonderful skin nutrients in a night cream
4: Once a week use a blemish control mask treatment. Choose healing ingredients such as Zinc, Sulfur and Bentonite Clay to decongest blocked pores
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