CHENNAI: Skincare for teenagers is a whole new level of learning. From dealing with acne for the first time to navigating changes like facial and body hair growth to managing body odour successfully – skin care and personal hygiene can be quite confusing for a teen.
Here are some common areas when your teen might falter in his or her skincare, and also how to help them manage the problem.
Firstly, you might find that your teen has suddenly transformed into a water-hating cat, and needs to be coerced into bathing. Stand your ground, and make sure that your son or daughter has a daily shower, and washes his/her hair at least thrice weekly. Encourage them to have an additional shower if they return sweaty from sports or the gym, especially if you live in a very humid place. Deep-cleansing shower gels and pH-balanced soaps are great options for your teen.
Next, insist on the hygiene of specific areas, like the underarms, groins, pubic areas, lower back, and behind the ears – these are areas that are usually neglected when it comes to skincare. Your teen may be finding it difficult to handle underarm hair growth – you can get them started on a trimmer. Compared to waxing or shaving, trimming is very skin-friendly. You can also consider laser hair removal for denser hair growth when you and they feel comfortable to evaluate this option. Long hair in the underarms plus poor hygiene can give rise to infections like trichomycosis. The easiest way to prevent or manage this is to always trim the hair in this area. You need to counsel them about skin care of private parts, as this is new territory for them. Educate them about maintaining hygiene in this area.
Do not allow your teen to tolerate lice infestations as a casual occurrence. You can use anti-lice over-the-counter preparations, or if the condition is severe, get them treated by your doctor. If the nits are persistent, you can use a vinegar rinse. Mix vinegar with water 1:1 and rinse the hair in this mixture. The vinegar loosens up the cement that attaches the nit to the hair, and this will help in reducing nit load.
Avoid excessive oiling of the scalp, especially overnight oiling and soaking. Teens produce plenty of sebum and their skin is easily acne prone, so you don’t want to complicate things there. You can encourage them to use a leave-in detangling serum for hair maintenance and the scalp can be left alone.
Face wash should be done thrice daily – excessive washing and inadequate washing can damage the skin. The tendency is to rub and scrub the skin as they wash, but this should be discouraged as excessive scrubbing and rubbing can lead to skin pigmentation. Gentle but thorough washing is what is recommended.
Teens can be at the extremes when it comes to skincare products. We see both extremes, with youngsters using too many products and too many skincare steps, and the other end where there is no skincare whatsoever. The healthy balance is to use a few, but effective products for skin care, depending on the concern, to allow the skin to respond, but not react. The minimum care should be a cleanser, and sunscreen depending on sun exposure. A healthy, antioxidant-rich diet would be the last step in teen skin care. Coloured vegetables, fruits and nuts are all great options for teens, and presenting these in interesting ways (like dry fried carrot chips or better still, raw, diced carrots) helps increase the acceptance.
A teen is often a more reserved version of a toddler, with the same or higher amount of (invisible) insecurities and meltdowns – it helps to introduce skincare to them with detailed reasoning instead of as a dictum, to help them figure out their self-care on their own.
— Dr Renita Rajan, Chief Consultant Dermatologist, Render Skin and Hair.