Published on January 20, 2022

Is your teen’s diet sabotaging their skin?

Teen acne is one of life’s unfair rites of passages. How do you know when it is more than a little stubborn acne and time to schedule an appointment to see a specialist? Ridgeview’s dermatology team shares some practical advice to help your teen look and feel their best.

How to prevent acne in the first place

Tyler Johnson, PA-C, Dermatology, weighs in on what teens can do to prevent acne before it starts. “Diet is definitely something we get asked about often; unfortunately there’s not a lot of clear cut evidence. Some studies, however, do suggest that a high glycemic diet or a diet high in milk intake may contribute to acne,” he said. A high glycemic diet is one that is heavy in carbohydrates and sugars—popular food choices among teens.

In addition to being aware of the foods your teen is putting in their body, there are basic steps they can take to help prevent acne. It is a good idea to promote these routines early on in adolescence, so that they become habits. Johnson suggests simplifying the process when possible so that teens stick with it.

  • Clean the skin with a mild, nondrying cleanser, such as Cetaphil or CeraVe.
  • Remove all dirt or make-up before bed, and especially after playing sports or exercising.
  • Shower shortly after exercise that causes sweating.
  • Change out of sweaty clothes.
  • Shampoo hair daily, particularly if it is oily in nature.
  • Pull long hair back to keep it away from the face.
  • Avoid touching face with hands.
  • Change bed sheets weekly.

How to tackle breakouts

Breakouts can happen even with strict preventive care. Hormonal changes, genetics and other factors play a role. When using over-the-counter skincare products, Johnson recommends products that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Some of these products can be drying to the skin. Watch for changes in your teen’s skin and discontinue use if the product is causing irritation.

Try not to pick or squeeze a pimple. This can lead to skin infections, slower healing and scarring. Keep the area clean and avoid using make-up to cover it. However, if you must, choose make-up that is labeled as non-comedogenic, which are products that contain ingredients that won't clog pores.

When is it time to contact a medical professional?

“It’s really important to get the acne under control before it leads to scarring, which can have lifelong impacts, both physically and emotionally,” Johnson said. “If it is not clearing up after several weeks with over-the-counter products, do not hesitate to make an appointment with a dermatologist or your family doctor. We have the tools available to help so that no teen should be suffering.”

Your skin is the largest organ in your body and your body’s first line of defense–it is important to treat it with the care it deserves. Ridgeview’s board-certified dermatologists and physician assistants appreciate the unique concern of each individual patient and work closely with you to identify the best skin care approach for your teen.

Schedule an appointment with a Ridgeview provider, if it’s time for your teen to take the next step to care for their skin.