Beauty Clinic with The Skin Nerd: What to do about teenage breakouts

Hi Jennifer, my 16-year-old daughter has very bad skin at the moment and it is really starting to affect her confidence.

The main areas of breakouts are her forehead, around her top lip and chin. They are very angry and red and she has a lot of scarring as well.

She is good with her skincare routine and her diet is not too bad for a teenager. Her skin is more dry and flaky than oily.

Any advice would be very much appreciated.

The teenage years are some of the most difficult in your life in many respects...

Even though you don’t have a mortgage, a full-time job or anyone financially dependent on you. What you do have is the responsibility of juggling school, exams, friendships, being lovingly nagged and, for many, problematic skin that has an effect on how you feel about yourself.

I’m not quite sure how I’d handle all of that at present, and I’ve been living life for a while now. From one human to another, I’d like to take the time to thank you for caring about your daughter’s acne and breakouts.

Skin problems are often seen as something aesthetic but, as you understand, they can be painful and have consequences with regard to our mental health.

Like with any medical concern, asking questions is the first step to finding solutions.

Throughout the teen years, the surge and fluctuation of hormones, namely oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone, can bring about painful, red and irritated acne.

View this post on Instagram

Is your skin princess-level sensitive? Or could it just be sensitised? The difference is internal vs. external. If your skin has always been sensitive, it's sensitive. If it has just *started* to react to products, feel itchy and appear red, it's possible that your skin is actually sensitised... Sensitisation happens when your skin is exposed to factors that lead its protective "film" (known as its barrier) to become damaged. Your barrier is like the lid of the Tupperware that is your skin, keeping the moisture in and the "baddies" out, so when its not working, you can see skin dehydration, itchiness, irritation and redness. Look after your barrier and it will look after you! . . . #theskinnerd #skincare #sensitiveskin #skinadvice #skintips #skincaregoals #skin #redness

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This is the reason why teenage acne can sometimes be placated or reduced by topical skincare products, or a better diet, but often only to a minor extent — it’s not getting to the actual root of the breakouts.

In my opinion, since you’ve mentioned scarring and the anger of the breakouts, your first step is to bring your daughter to your GP.

A medical professional will be able to examine the skin and prescribe a solution, whether it is a topical benzoyl peroxide-based treatment, such as Acnecide 5% or Duac, oral antibiotics to reduce the inflammation within the skin and the body or hormonal treatments such as an oral contraceptive which will work to regulate the hormones that lead to the breakouts.

This may sound extreme but I assure you that it is not. Nipping this in the bud as soon as possible will help to prevent and reduce scarring and hyperpigmentation (acne marks) in the years to come.

I don’t believe that medication alone can do the full job. A well-rounded and effective skincare routine will help to keep the skin as healthy as possible.

For the most part, avoid the typical teen cleansers like the plague as they can be incredibly skin-stripping, which can lead to skin dehydration and the exacerbation of symptoms. Opt for a mild salicylic acid-based cleanser such as the Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash (€41.00, available from selected pharmacies and salons and

Teens really need a light layer of hydration, especially when using potentially drying ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.

A lightweight, hydrating serum will moisturise without clogging pores.

I cannot reiterate enough how important it is to wear a broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB protective), oil-free SPF on a daily basis. UV light damages the skin, whether it’s sunny, cloudy or rainy, and it’s certainly a fantastic habit to get teens into.

The Nerdie Pick

No matter how oily or spot-prone the skin is, it needs some form of hydration. The Caudalie S.O.S. Thirst-Quenching Serum (€30, available from selected

department stores and pharmacies, and contains hyaluronic acid and squalane for a blast of skin hydration. It’s non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores, making it ideal for those suffering from spots and blackheads, and has the additional benefit of being chock full of antioxidant polyphenols to protect the skin from the environmental stressors it encounters daily. It can be used at night and in the morning, prior to your teen’s oil-free SPF, of course.

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