There are plenty of skin disorders that can trouble in teens ranging from seborrheic dermatitis, or dandruff, on the top of their heads, to tinea pedis, or athlete’s foot, at the tip of their toes. The most common skin problem facing teens is acne vulgaris, known in teen vernacular as pimples, zits, whiteheads or blackheads. Around 85 percent of teens will suffer from an acne breakout every year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
You must identify the skin problem before you can treat it. Many common skin conditions have similar symptoms but have different causes that respond to different treatments. Some skin problems, such as skin cancer, can be serious or even fatal. If an unexplained rash or mole-like growth appears on your teen’s skin that you cannot identify you should seek professional care from your primary care physician or dermatologist.
Skin problems can have serious repercussions for teenagers, particularly complexion breakouts like acne, which can appear anywhere on the body but frequently affect the face. Old wives’ tales attribute acne to poor personal hygiene or a diet that is high in greasy fried foods or chocolate. These attitudes can lead to ridicule from peers and classmates. Teens may be embarrassed by their appearance, grow anxious or even depressed. Teen skin problems can result in decreased self-confidence, low self-esteem, social withdrawal and higher rates of unemployment, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Many traditional methods of dealing with acne and other teen skin problems simply don’t work, and in some cases make the problem worse. No one knows the exact cause of acne, but the AAD believes a combination of fluctuating hormones, bacteria, clogged pores and excess skin oil, called sebum, is the primary culprit. Diet is not a contributing factor in acne, so cutting out dairy foods, chocolate or french fries won’t make a difference. Acne is not the result of poor hygiene and is not affected by surface dirt. Scrubbing the skin vigorously with harsh soaps won’t help and may contribute to the problem.
Most teen skin problems can be effectively treated, but it may take some time. There are no miracle cures for skin problems, and any product that claims otherwise should be viewed with skepticism. Mild skin problems, such as a few pimples, may respond to over-the-counter topical medications containing salicylic acid or benzole peroxide. Moderate to serious skin conditions, such as ringworm or moderate acne, typically require prescription medications that may be either topical or oral. Serious teen skin problems such as severe acne can result in permanent scarring. Treatment may include a combination of prescription medications, light therapy and surgery.
Some types of teen skin problems, such as common acne or eczema, cannot be prevented, but a commonsense approach to health and lifestyle may help to reduce their effects. Eliminate known triggers to breakouts, such as detergents or cosmetics with fragrances and dyes. The AAD recommends teens maintain a regular routine of cleansing their skin with mild cleansers followed by applying good quality skin moisturizers. Aggressive scrubbing with harsh soaps or astringents can do more harm than good. Teens should avoid excess exposure to the sun, which can age the skin prematurely. Tanning booths, which can dramatically increase the risk of melanoma skin cancer in young people, should be strictly forbidden to teens, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.