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How can I help my teenager cope with her acne?

More than just your teen’s skin is affected by acne.  As the parent of two teenagers who have acne, I know it can be emotionally challenging.  I will share with you the three key things that are helping my teens clear up their face and boost their self-esteem.

1.  Develop a daily skin cleansing routine:  The oil our skin produces is important.  It protects our skin and keeps it nice and soft. Our body knows exactly the right amount of oil to produce and when that oil and dirt are washed away (great for acne!), your body is going to make more oil to replace what it lost.  If you wash your face too often, excess oil will be produced and lead to more acne.  Try using a gentle cleanser like Cetaphil twice a day. 

2.  See a Dermatologist:  While cleansing with Cetaphil and using an over the counter treatment like the 4% benzoyl peroxide in PanOxyl may work, in some cases acne can persist.  A dermatologist can provide the medical treatment that is needed.  Your teen may be started on an oral antibiotic to help reduce the bacteria in the pores that is causing the acne along with a topical acne treatment.  This is also a great time for your teen to ask questions and get the much needed emotional support and reassurance that they may need. 

3.  Be patient:  This is the hardest part.  Treatment for acne is like running a marathon…slow and steady.  After you begin your acne treatments you may actually see the acne getting worse.  Be patient and persistent.  Continue with your skin cleansing routine and use what the dermatologist prescribed.  You should begin to see some noticeable results in 3 months.  During this time it’s a great opportunity for you to provide the emotional support and reassurance your teen needs.
Natasha Turner, ND
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
There are fundamental dietary guidelines and supplements that should be included in any treatment plan for optimal results.

There is controversy over whether or not dietary habits have any influence on the frequency or severity of acne or related skin conditions. So many references say there is no correlation between the two, however in my practice I have found that the removal of dairy products, caffeine, gluten, reducing the intake of chocolate and avoiding sugar as much as possible are all effective. A great starting place would be the detox diet outlined in The Hormone Diet.

Eating a healthy ratio of protein and low glycemic carbohydrates with each meal and snack can also balance blood sugar and subsequently stress hormones, both of which may reduce acne. Finally, be sure to include natural anti-inflammatory, healthy fats in your diet such as olive oil and fish oils. Avoid unhealthy oils like peanut, soy, vegetable or hydrogenated oils which will increase inflammation in the skin and worsen the problem.

As far as supplements are concerned, regardless of the cause of your acne one should include zinc 25-50mg per day, vitamin A 10,000-50,000IU per day (not to be taken by women who may be pregnant or attempting to conceive), vitamin C 1000-3000mg per day, and MSM 2000-4000mg per day for healing, collagen formation and tissue repair.

I also strongly recommend a probiotic supplement, taken daily upon rising and before bed. Healthy bacterial balance in our digestive tract is easily affected by poor dietary habits and by the use of medications such as birth control pills, corticosteroids and antibiotics and can contribute to skin conditions.

Wishing you perfect balance,

Dr. Natasha Turner

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.