A 12-year-old friend is experiencing body breakouts so painful that she’s unable to carry her school backpack as designed. A number of my children’s mates are suffering, not to mention all the adults who write to ask about “bacne”. The cause, especially during adolescence, is usually hormonal, and no topical skincare product can treat an imbalance. But the pain, discomfort, social exclusion and depression associated with acne are not “part and parcel” of the teenage experience, so please don’t feel guilty about insisting on a GP’s referral if problems persist. There are things, however, that can help from the outside while the inside is given proper consideration.
Keeping clean is essential, but don’t go mad with harsh scrubs (those granular things must be avoided). Showering no more than twice daily with beta hydroxy acid (BHA) wash is ideal, since BHAs penetrate the pores and clear oil and debris. Neutrogena make the best one, Body Clear, but, infuriatingly, discontinued it in the UK. It’s usually on Amazon and eBay, so have a look or stock up when abroad. Or you could try tea tree, which, though not pore clearing, removes and inhibits bacteria. Australian Bodycare Tea Tree Oil Skin Wash (£14.99, 250ml) is lovely: gentle, fresh-smelling, gender-neutral and liked by young people. You can follow up with a topical BHA product to treat the spots. Paula’s Choice Clear Exfoliating Spray 2% BHA (£24, 118ml) is very good, spraying on evenly and easily without irritation or stickiness. There’s a very effective cream-gel, too, Weightless Body Treatment 2% BHA (£31, 210ml); but in my experience, even willing or desperate teens are unlikely to engage in skincare unless it’s made very easy. Body sprays are a cinch, and Superdrug’s Deep Action Back Spritz (£2.79, 150ml) is a solid purchase. It’s a little high in alcohol, but like those 10 times its price, it uses BHA to do the heavy lifting. (My instinct is that cheap products like this will be used correctly, ie as needed, rather than too frugally.) Murad’s excellent Clarifying Body Spray (£35, 130ml) goes further, adding to the BHA some niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 which benefits oily, spotty and inflamed skin. It’s pricey, but like Superdrug, Paula’s Choice and Australian Bodycare, it’s also cruelty-free.
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