Remember how old you were when you discovered your first pimple? There was an awareness that you were coming of age, right along with the "ew!" factor. And then it got worse when those red bumps of acne got bigger and appeared more often. Even though you can't go back and change what happened to you as a teenager, you can help teach your children new habits that may help to prevent their acne from even starting. The secret is in taking care of your skin consistently. First things first - a word or two about washing! We can stop acne due to clogged pores from forming by simply getting kids to wash their faces every night starting at a very young age. Bacteria is all around us on a daily basis, including bacteria that will infect small clogged pores. When we touch our faces with our hands, the bacteria is getting all over the skin. Washing your face at night allows all of the day's bacteria, pore-clogging oil, and dead skin cells to be removed. When this happens, the skin can experience its cycle of cell turnover at a time when it's not exposed to harsh wind or other climactic conditions that might chap skin or stress the skin barrier. This is especially important if you exfoliate at night, which is, incidentally, a great way to lessen blackheads and have a bright and fresh complexion in the morning. As kids get older, they start to sweat more, and the hormones turn on the oil-producing glands. This is the perfect setup for flourishing skin bacteria and clogged pores. Usually, the first sign that this is starting is the formation of blackheads on the outer creases of the nose, middle of the brow, and the chin area. When this happens, it's extremely important to concentrate on washing because, unfortunately, it’s only going to get worse unless it's addressed! The blackheads start increasing in size and number, and you begin to see redness start to happen around the pores. Pimples start to form then as well. But, this is when we want to catch the process before it gets out of control. I want to share with you some product tips I'm teaching my 7-year-old to do almost every night to prevent acne. These are also great tips to help keratosis pilaris (K.P.), a skin disorder that can form on the face and cheeks of children and preteens who are predisposed. (K.P. looks like clogged pores without the blackheads!) 1. Clarisonic Brush system sits in our household bathroom counter, one unit for a family of three! Everyone has their own brush for their own skin type. She uses a Luxus brush, one of the softest brushes for her sensitive skin. 2. She uses a bar of zinc soap (Dr. Bailey’s Calming Zinc Cleansing Bar) with simple ingredients- Saponified olive oil, (infused with Calendula) and shea butter, oatmeal, 2% pyrithione zinc. This allows the skin to be cleansed in a gentle, hydrating, non-drying way for young skin. 3. Moisturizer is used only if she needs it. When kids are young, their natural lipids are still working very well as long as we don't strip them with harsh soaps! They should only use moisturizer if the skin needs it. Over-hydrated skin can cause pores to clog and more acne. 4. Sunscreen. Yes, my 7-year-old wears sunscreen on her face every day (Suntegrity Baby Natural Mineral Sunscreen, unscented). What would your skin have looked like as a teenager if someone had explained all of this to you? I have so many parents that come in for skin treatments, and the conversation inevitably leads to how they wish they had taken care of their kids' blackheads because now their acne is out of control with scarring and/or hyperpigmentation from sun exposure on inflamed pimples that then tan and mark the skin even more. What's more, this can even happen at a seemingly young age. Often by early teens, kids have to start prescription medicines such as topical Retin A or an oral antibiotic to control the acne. But, it's nice to try to keep the pores from becoming clogged in the first place as it's one of the early steps in the acne process. While the above steps are not guaranteed to prevent acne from ever happening, they definitely lighten the chances. Plus, it gives you and your children the opportunity to establish good skin care habits that will last a lifetime. Of course good skin cleansing and wearing sunscreen every day should also be added to this list. Let's train our children to take good care of their skin!
If you are local and are a teen or pre-teen (or a parent of one) and you have the early signs of acne starting, come in for an acne facial to jump start your improvement! We can also discuss which acne prevention products are right for your complexion. If you live too far away to visit me in Sebastopol, Dr. Bailey has great online information and products for acne. Check out her Acne Advice pages to find the product that’s right for you, like her Glycolic Acid Kit or her Ultimate Acne Kit for Sensitive Skin. Danielle Key has been working as an aesthetician for 13 years, 3 of those for Dr. Bailey. She discovered her love of makeup, products and natural skin care working at a spa, inspiring her to get her license to become an aesthetician. She currently lives in Northern California with her husband and daughter. Their hobbies include golfing and traveling across the United States.