How do I help my child with their acne?

I often get questions from kids about spots/pimples and acne. Acne can occur anywhere on the body but is common on the face, neck, shoulders, back and chest. It can be physically painful and also emotionally upsetting.

There is plenty we can do for our children if they have acne:
1. Understand what causes it.
✳️Acne is a condition affecting the skin’s hair follicles and oil glands. Pores are connected to glands that make an oily substance known as sebum. When sebum and dead skin cells clump together, they form a plug in the hair follicle. Bacteria in the plug causes inflammation, leading to red pimples in acne. Acne often runs in families. It is not caused by diet.

2. Understanding that how we respond is a vital component to helping them with their self esteem
✳️If your child has acne they may feel very self conscious about it and not want attention brought to it or they may not know how to talk about it. Apparently up to 95% of people aged between 11-30 are affected by acne to some extent and this is especially true during puberty. They may feel alone but they definitely are not. Talk to your child with compassion and offer practical help (see below). They are acutely aware of their skin so will not appreciate comments on it. Model to them/remind them (if needed) that self worth should not be determined by our looks.

3. Understanding the pressures society puts on them
✳️Of course, society tells us the opposite (self worth IS determined by looks/money/fame) so making sure we are raising media literate children (those that understand that most images are altered) who ideally are also beginning to understand the messages we receive from social conditioning, will help.

4. What steps can be taken
✳️Treatments that address the causes work best. Active ingredients in acne treatments from over the counter are benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Treatments need time to work so be consistent and stick with them. There is never any harm in seeking medical help, especially if the acne seems on the more severe side or your child is particularly upset about it. 

✳️Do not wash affected areas of skin more than twice a day. Frequent washing can irritate the skin and make symptoms worse.
✳️Wash the affected area with a mild soap or cleanser and lukewarm water. Very hot or cold water can make acne worse.
✳️Do not try to “clean out” blackheads or squeeze spots. This can make them worse and cause permanent scarring.
✳️Avoid using too much make-up and cosmetics. Use water-based products that are described as non-comedogenic. This means the product is less likely to block the pores in your skin.
✳️Completely remove make-up before going to bed.
✳️If dry skin is a problem, use a fragrance-free water-based emollient.
✳️Regular exercise cannot improve your acne, but it can boost your mood and improve your self-esteem. Shower as soon as possible once you finish exercising as sweat can irritate your acne.
✳️Wash your hair regularly and try to avoid letting your hair fall across your face.
(Some source information from