Dealing with acne during menstrual cycle

>>My teenage daughter suffers from acne, which worsens when she has her periods.

She gets very upset about it, particularly when going out with her friends. What is the best treatment?

>>Most teenagers suffer from acne. Acne develops when the small, sebaceous glands in the skin, which make the oil, sebum, start to produce more oil.

This is a result of changes in hormone levels at puberty. As your daughter has found, acne can be affected by her menstrual cycle.

For most people, acne is mild. However, sometimes it can be severe and may need treatment to prevent scarring.

Even mild acne can be distressing and teenagers can be very sensitive about it. Happily, there are a wide range of treatments to control acne and most people will grow out of it.

You should bring your daughter to your GP, who can examine her, assess how serious the acne is, and discuss what is the most appropriate type of treatment.

In the meantime, there are a number of simple options.

* She should wash her face twice a day with a mild soap (not a facial scrub) and lukewarm water.

* Avoid picking or squeezing any spots, as this can make them more inflamed and more likely to scar.

* Avoid using oil-based creams/products on her face (including make-up), as they may clog the pores.

* If she has long hair or a fringe wash it frequently to prevent grease from building up, and keep it off her face.

* Ointments containing benzoyl peroxide are available from the pharmacy. They can be effective for mild acne, however, they may irritate the skin. If this happens, stop using it until the irritation goes, then use it for a shorter time, before washing it off.

Reassure your daughter that most teenagers develop acne, and that it almost always resolves itself.

>>My grandson has been diagnosed with a lazy eye. What is the treatment and can it be cured?

>>A lazy eye is when one eye develops more slowly than the other. This is also called amblyopia.

This can happen for many reasons, but the commonest causes are an imbalance in the muscles that align the eyes (strabismus or squint), or because the child is long- or short-sighted in one eye. Because it cannot focus both eyes properly, the brain ‘ignores’ one of the eyes and relies on the other, and, as a result, the neglected (‘lazy’) eye does not develop as well.

The problem can be effectively treated, and this usually involves correcting the underlying problem (for example, wearing glasses to correct short sightedness in one eye, or correcting a squint), and then encouraging the brain to use the ‘lazy’ eye by covering the good eye with an eye patch. The treatment is very effective, but it is gradual and takes many months to work.

Not every child will find it easy to wear a patch, so parents need to explain, in language appropriate to the child’s age, why the patch has to be worn. It can be helpful to use a star chart and rewards to encourage the child to wear it.

The earlier the diagnosis and the sooner the treatment is started, the more quickly the problem will be resolved.

If it is left untreated, beyond a certain age, usually about eight years old, the development of vision in the lazy eye can be permanently affected.

It is important to be alert for any problems with a child’s vision, or any sign of a squint. If you have any concerns talk to your GP about them.

It is also important to attend the public-health nurse, for routine developmental checks, as this can help pick up problems at an early stage.


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