Dr Bernadette Carr answers your questions on bad skin and children's diet

Dr Bernadette Carr says that it is recommended children have at least 60 minutes of activity a day. 

Q. I am a 23-year-old woman and have very bad skin, with breakouts on my chin and face. I’ve also had a lot of blackheads since my teens. What can I do to clear my skin?

A. Hormonal changes in the teenage years may trigger changes in the oil production in the skin contributing to the development of blocked pores with comedones (whiteheads) and blackheads. 

Bacteria in the skin may cause inflammation with the development of infected pustules which if severe may form larger cysts which leads to an increased risk of scarring.

There is a wide range of preparations available over the counter and on prescription to treat acne. 

A topical preparation containing benzol peroxide is a frequently tried as a first step and can be bought in pharmacies. This cream will reduce the amount of bacteria on the skin. A small amount should be used and it may dry the skin.

As a next step, topical antibiotics or retinoid creams which can treat inflamed skin, may be prescribed by your GP if they are appropriate for you.

It is very important to use sun protection when using these medications as they may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and sunburn.

Your GP may also suggest medications in addition to cream such as a three-month course of an oral antibiotic to control skin inflammation and kill bacteria leading to spots.

Tetracyclines are the most common type of antibiotic used for acne.

The oral contraceptive pill may help control acne due to the effect it has on hormone balance.

For skin that has been badly scarred by acne laser treatment may be used to improve the appearance of scarring. 

Most cases will resolve with less than 12% of women over 25 suffering with the condition.

Q. My 10-year-old is very fond of her food and I find it difficult to refuse her a second helping at mealtimes. How do I know if her weight is OK and are there particular foods I should include in her lunch box to keep her from feeling hungry?

Dr Bernadette Carr answers your questions on bad skin and children's diet

A. BMI or body mass index is one way of measuring growth in children based on their weight and height. 

A “normal” BMI is considered to lie between the 5th and 85th centile on the growth chart.

Diet and exercise play a big role in managing weight in children. It is recommended children have at least 60 minutes of activity a day. 

Many now have access to the internet, TV, smartphones all of which can contribute to living a more sedentary lifestyle.

It is a good idea to limit screen time to less than two hours a day and encourage more active pursuits, incorporating exercise and physical activity as part of their normal daily routine.

Portion size can also be a problem in maintaining a healthy weight for kids. Children do not need as much food as adults and this should be kept in mind when considering serving sizes. 

Structured meal times and encouraging kids to eat at the table rather than on the couch or on the run can help to develop good eating habits.

When considering a child’s diet, many do not get enough fruit and vegetables. 

Encouraging children to try new varieties of fruit and vegetables early, incorporating fruit, fresh soups, and salads as part of school lunches as well as increasing the vegetable content of kid’s dinners are all good ways of increasing their intake and ensuring they make their “five a day”.

The food pyramid provides a good guide for how much of each food group to include in a child’s diet. 

It includes healthy carbohydrates, vegetables, protein and calcium sources as staples, with treats, fats and oils to be kept to a minimum.

Including a small piece of fruit, a matchbox-sized piece of cheese or a yogurt in lunchboxes is a convenient way of ensuring kids are getting adequate calcium and vitamins in their diet. 

Plain milk or water are best to drink, limiting fruit juices and fizzy drinks which provide empty calories and can contribute to tooth decay.

For further advice and guidance about your child’s weight as well as monitoring overall growth and progress, your GP can help you chart your child’s weight and height as well as BMI and can make referrals to a dietician/paediatrician if this is necessary.


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