As if adolescence wasn’t already difficult enough, skin imperfections make daily life more complicated at a time when self-image is being constructed and self-confidence can be low.  Should you take your teenager to see a dermatologist? Avoid talking about their acne? How can you help them have a positive self-image beyond physical appearance? How can you convince them to follow a prescribed acne treatment?

  • Joël Pacoret - Psychologist
    Joël Pacoret, Psychologist - (France, Paris) .

    It’s never easy bringing up a teenager, even without acne…and with it, things are even more complicated.

    Joël Pacoret, Psychologist - (France, Paris) .

Parent-teenager relationships when acne starts to develop

The idea is to always be there, help absorb the shocks and provide support during difficult moments, even if you make mistakes.

Whatever you say, however you say it, it’s always better than saying nothing at all. I encourage parents to try their best and never to be discouraged or give up.

Adolescence is characterised by conflict with lots of different emotions all coming together. During this period, the skin can express many contradictory things. 

It is important for parents to avoid thinking of the acne itself as a problem.

Rather that their teenager has acne and that this creates problems for them. Or not, as the case may be. They might get along very well in spite of it. Even if they have acne, they may well behave normally, accept the situation, have lots of friends and enjoy different activities. If their attitude and development seem unaffected, you don’t necessarily need to talk about it.

It is essential to be open and willing to listen, while keeping an eye out for any warning signs and changes in their behaviour. 

I’m referring to increasingly extreme examples of teenager behaviour like becoming very introverted, being addicted to screens or overly dependent on social media and also feeling extremely sad. If this happens, it is worth talking about it with your teenager. If you manage to connect, try to steer them in the right direction and ask for external help if necessary. It’s a question of degree. If the situation lasts over a significant period of time, it may well be time to seek assistance. First of all, contact your local doctor or dermatologist, and if appropriate a psychologist. It is important to get help and make sure your teenager doesn’t feel alone. If someone is distressed and vulnerable, I think it is always beneficial to consult a professional.

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The impact of other people’s opinion and judgement on an acne-prone teenager can be catastrophic!

Puberty already generates lots of questions about what others think. The impact can be minor on someone who has already constructed their own self-image and doesn’t rely on the opinion of others. However, this judgement can be far more damaging for vulnerable teenagers.

It is important to explain to your teenager that their acne doesn’t reflect their personality in any way. That the purely “aesthetic” image seen by others doesn’t make them who they are. Any activities that help them define themselves in other terms, beyond their physical appearance, like sport and music, are very useful. And, the support provided by someone from outside your close family can be decisive.

Who is best placed to help your teenager?

It could be uncle, cousin or family friend, someone else suffering from acne, an older teenager, a teacher, a doctor or even a psychologist if the situation gets complicated.

It is essential that your teenager feels that they are fully supported. They need to know that they have someone to talk to if they can’t work things out on their own or with you, their parents. This should be someone they can trust and who knows how to listen – not necessarily a psychologist or dermatologist. Even though your role as parent is essential, in this situation, you are often most helpful as an interface.

The dermatologist has a wide-reaching role to play.

They have expertise and understand how the skin works. As a parent, it is important to highlight this scientific dimension to your teenager without forgetting the importance of the relationship established. Your teenager needs to feel they are being listened to. To a great extent, this is question of personality. Even if you find the best dermatologist, it can be difficult if the teenager doesn’t like them. This means that you might need to look for someone else and accept this incompatibility without questioning the dermatologist’s expertise. And be aware that if your teenager is taking an isotretinoin-based treatment, it is essential to be especially vigilant as your teenager may, very infrequently, suffer side effects on their mood.

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Teenagers are often impatient to see the results, as they feel personally and physically uncomfortable. Not to mention the weight of other people’s opinion when the acne is visible on their face. Each time they look in the mirror, they are constantly reminded.

The fact that the acne is visible makes the situation more difficult to accept and increases their impatience.

Often this impatience results in them squeezing and touching their spots. But this only makes the situation worse.

As a parent, you only do your best to help as your teenager becomes an adult.

What should you do if your teenager wants to stop their treatment? You can’t impose your point of view. Instead, try to talk it through and explain the consequences. But in the end, you have to let your son or daughter make up their own mind. Sometimes you have to let go, making sure that you are there if things get worse further down the road.

Range Sebium

Hygiene & skincare

Combination to acne-prone skin

The Sébium range

Range Sebium

The skin changes during adolescence: it becomes thicker, shiny, blemishes appear to a varying extent and sometimes remain into adulthood.

BIODERMA’s solution: Sébium, a range tailored to oily and acne-prone skin.
The Sébium range has cleansing and care products that are specifically recommended by dermatologists: face cleansers for oily skin (foaming gel, micellar water, soap bars, etc.), anti-blemish creams, moisturisers for acne-prone skin, and more. Choose your routine!