The teenage years can be very exciting in a wide range of ways, but one common side-effect of puberty is no fun at all; spots. While most young people will have the occasional outbreak, a minority suffers from serious acne, with pimples, blackheads, and skin lesions that can leave scars that may even last a lifetime.
Being a teenager is difficult at the best of times but having a serious skin problem just when you want others to find you attractive can be a real blow. Confident, happy youngsters, who breezed through primary school with lots of friends, can become withdrawn and unhappy, with potentially serious problems for their social confidence and self-esteem.
However, there are things that one can do to mitigate the effects of acne. A healthy diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables and as little junk food as possible, will help, as will observing good personal hygiene, and judicious use of some of the better over the counter products that are available. For serious cases, a trip to the GP or even to a dermatologist can help, as some cases of acne can be ameliorated with medication—and infected pustules can sometimes require an antibiotic to clear them up.
Dealing with the psychological impact of bad skin is trickier. Parents may be tempted to dismiss their teenage child’s upset about their skin and to say things like “It’s just something you have to go through—I had it too and I turned out fine,” or, “It’s what’s inside that counts—your appearance doesn’t really matter.”
If your child is upset about their skin and you are already helping them in the areas of diet and medical treatment, the next thing you need to do is really listen to them when they talk about their distress. Try to remember that young people don’t always see things the way adults do. While a middle-aged person may understand that what’s inside is what really counts, a teenager knows that they will be judged by their peers on the basis of how they look. They are not going to be fobbed off with the idea that they just have to have a great personality and nobody will notice the condition of their skin. Of course, you should reassure them that their skin will clear up in a year or two, and that they are no less of a person because they have spots—but don’t overlook or belittle their upset, because that only risks making things worse. Instead, listen to them without judgement, and help them to find and engage in confidence-building activities that will help them through what is inevitably a difficult period in their lives.
WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FURTHER ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THIS ARTICLE?
For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.
You may also wish to consider reading about child therapy, where we offer therapy for children and adolescents who are going through a difficult time or struggling with certain issues.