Skin SOS: Addressing Pre-Teen Skin Care Concerns

As children transition into their pre-teen years, they experience many physical and emotional changes. Some of these changes will affect their skin in different ways. Skin Cancer & Dermatology Institute offers guidance on navigating pre-teen skin care concerns, ensuring your child’s skin remains healthy during this transitional phase. This includes cultivating a proactive skin care routine from an early age and establishing habits that lay down a foundation for a lifetime of positive self-care.

Understanding Skin Changes in Pre-Teens

Before delving into pre-teen skin care, it’s crucial to understand the underlying changes that are taking place in a child’s body. Pre-teens or “tweens” are defined as children between the ages of 9 to 12. At this age, they start noticing changes in their skin and bodies. Hormones, particularly androgens, become more active during puberty, increasing oil production or sebum. While sebum moisturizes and protects our skin, making it an important component of skin health, its increased production at this stage can result in oily skin, occasional breakouts, and acne. While every pre-teen will have a different experience during these years, some things your pre-teen may experience include:

Acne – As mentioned above, pre-teens will start to experience hormonal changes during these years, leading to increased sebum. Increased oil production, bacteria, and dead skin cells will clog pores and create blackheads and breakouts. Many pre-teens will experience breakouts on their face, shoulders, and back. Genetic factors may also play a role in how severe your child’s acne becomes. Advise your child not to pick or pop their pimples, which can lead to infections and scarring. Consult a Board-Certified Dermatologist to help you develop a treatment that works best for your pre-teen.

Skin Sensitivities – Some pre-teens may experience sensitivities due to allergies, or they may have difficulties due to skin conditions such as eczema. Any of these can cause red, inflamed, and itchy skin. It is best to get it checked out by a Dermatologist to help identify the cause of the sensitivity and develop a treatment specific to the condition. Use gentle skin products and avoid any products that have fragrances or perfumes.

Dry Skin – Tweens can also encounter dry skin or patches that need moisturizing help. The skin may look rough, flaky, or irritated. Have them use a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer rich in humectants and emollients. These ingredients will replenish their skin barrier and keep it healthy.

Developing a Simple Skin Care Routine

The key to effective pre-teen skincare lies in simplicity. A complicated skincare regimen might confuse your child and aggravate their skin issues. Stick to the basics: a gentle cleanser, a moisturizer suitable for their skin type, and a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Avoid harsh products that promise quick fixes, as they can strip the skin of essential oils and worsen the situation. By keeping it simple, it is more likely that your child will keep up the habit through the years.

  1. Cleanse: teach your pre-teen the importance of proper cleansing. Washing the face twice daily with a mild cleanser helps remove excess oil, dirt, and impurities. Avoid hot water, as it can strip the skin of its natural moisture. Gently pat the skin dry after washing instead of rubbing it with a towel. The American Academy of Dermatology has some essential tips on face washing.
  2. Moisturize: using a non-comedogenic moisturizer helps balance the skin’s moisture levels and prevents excessive oil production.
  3. Sun Protection: Instill the importance of sun protection early on. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 should become a part of your child’s daily routine, even on cloudy days. This helps protect their skin from harmful UV rays and reduces the risk of sun damage.

Encourage Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Skincare isn’t just about what you put on your skin; it’s also about how you treat your body. Encourage your pre-teen to maintain a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Make sure your child drinks plenty of water throughout the day to maintain skin hydration from within. Regular exercise and adequate sleep also contribute to overall skin health.

Instill in them the importance of cleanliness and how that affects the health of their skin. Some simple habits you can encourage them to start:

  • Avoid touching the face.
  • Wash pillowcases regularly.
  • Use clean towels.
  • Keep cell phones clean.
  • Don’t share personal items to avoid spreading bacteria. This includes things like towels, makeup brushes, skin care, and makeup products.
  • If your child is into sports, make sure they clean their equipment regularly.

Open Communication

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of pre-teen skincare is open communication. Talk to your child about their skin concerns, listen to their worries, and offer reassurance. Consult a Dermatologist if issues persist or worsen, as a professional’s guidance can provide tailored solutions. Remember, it’s not just about the physical aspects but also about nurturing their self-esteem and teaching them the importance of self-care that will resonate throughout their lives.

Our highly experienced and qualified Providers include Board-Certified Dermatologists, Certified Physician Assistants, and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses who can guide you and your family through these skin care changes and challenges. We strive to provide the best Medical and Cosmetic Dermatology care for all your family. Book an appointment online at any of our locations, which include Carson City, Elko, Fallon, Incline Village, Sparks, and Truckee, as well as five locations in the Reno area. You may also call us at 775.324.0699.