At Westchester Health, we pay a good deal of attention to how acne is affecting our patients on the inside. A recent study has shown that even having mild acne can bring on feelings of low self-esteem, depression and suicidal thoughts in adolescents and teenagers. Coming at the same time as puberty only adds to the feelings of uncertainty about body image, self-esteem and other emotional issues that young people experience. To alert parents to the potentially damaging psychological effects of acne, Glenn E. Kaplan, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group, has written an excellent blog.
As well as visible skin problems, acne can have the following psychological effects:
- social withdrawal
- decreased self-esteem
- reduced self-confidence
- poor body image
- feelings of depression
If you notice that your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, please bring him/her in to talk to us. We have years of experience treating young people with acne and we’re here to help yours. If we feel it might help, we may refer your child to a counselor or therapist.
10 effective tips for dealing with acne
To help adolescents and teens get rid of acne, and to dispel some myths, we offer these 10 important tips:
- The old wives’ tale of certain foods causing acne is NOT TRUE. Chocolate and fatty, greasy foods do not cause acne.
- Pimples SHOULD NOT be squeezed.
- Some cosmetics can cause acne by blocking the skin’s pores. Your child should use products that are labeled “non-comedogenic.”
- Brief sun exposure can be helpful for acne but extended sunbathing can cause skin irritation that will worsen the condition.
- If your child’s acne is mild, start with OTC products, beginning with an acne cleanser/wash at least twice a day, then use a medicine containing 5% benzoyl peroxide at bedtime. If this does not work, change to a 10% concentration of the OTC medicine. As with all acne creams, the three most common side effects are dryness, burning and redness.
- If OTC medicines do not do the trick, speak to your pediatrician — he/she has stronger creams such as retinoids which have an anti-inflammatory effect, plus they remove excess skin cells to prevent them from causing pimples. Another type of cream you can get from your pediatrician combines benzoyl peroxide with a topical antibiotic. These two creams can be used as alternating therapy.
- If creams do not work, the next step is an oral antibiotic (erythromycin or tetracycline). This should be used along with the acne skin creams and is usually reserved for the more inflammatory acne conditions (large, deep pimples, cysts or nodules).
- In girls, estrogens (female hormones) in the form of oral contraceptives can be used if other treatments have failed and if there seems to be a relationship between the acne and ovulation or her menstrual period.
- An additional option is Accutane (oral isotretinoin). This medicine is prescribed by a dermatologist. There are some associated side effects that need to be monitored and so this medication is reserved for severe cases.
- The cause of your child’s acne may be allergy-related. If nothing seems to be helping, try removing dairy (lactose intolerance) and wheat-based foods (gluten allergy) from your child’s diet and see if this makes a difference in his/her skin.
Acne and puberty can be tough but we can help
At Westchester Health, we’re here for you and your child, whenever and wherever you need us, with advice, guidance and even just a listening ear. Acne and puberty together make it a very emotional time for all involved and we want to help your child get through it in a healthy way, mentally and well as physically.
To read Dr. Kaplan’s blog in full, click here.