Teen skin care: the wonder years

Skin care for teen boys

Let’s be honest. Getting a teenage boy to shower is hard enough. Convincing them to start a skin-care regimen is laughable.

It’s a bummer, really, because the teen years are when a young man’s skin can benefit most from healthy eating and good cleansing habits.

When it comes to the onset of skin changes with puberty, my adolescent sons apparently have been late bloomers. While their friends are gangly, pimply and, in one or two cases, downright goofy looking, my boys have retained the baby-soft skin that’s as clear as the touched-up face of a cover model.

It pains me to think it won’t last. In fact, recently with my older son, I’ve done that thing where I lick my thumb and rub it vigorously on his upper lip to erase spaghetti sauce or whatever it was he ate for lunch. But nothing comes off. In fact it’s getting worse. And it’s facial hair. Ack!

That’s not all. His skin is changing, and he’s had blemishes. This prompted him to request “good face wash stuff.” Girls get products like Clinique or Mary Kay. Boys get face wash stuff.

To borrow a tired phrase from my husband, “back in the day” we used soap. Granted, we also suntanned with baby oil and highlighted our hair with lemon juice. Thankfully, we do learn as we age. Now, I want to pass that wisdom on to my son.

He’s tried normal bar soap, which left him red and itchy. We searched for an alternative, preferably in a non-pink package and without glitter.

According to Banner Health dermatologist Kirsten Flynn, MD, the best thing for a teen boy to do is wash his face twice a day with a gentle cleanser to remove excess oil and bacteria. Teens should also wash after exercise because sweat can lead to breakouts.

She said gentle cleansers are fine for most teens. Cleansers and lotions with salicylic acid, glycolic acids or benzoyl peroxide can be helpful with mild teen acne.

Teens can have the tendency to overdo cleansing and irritate the skin, she said.

Gentle cleansers are better than an agent that requires scrubbing. Fragrances can cause reactions in sensitive skin, so those are to be avoided.

Boys shouldn’t pick at their skin either as that will cause the area to redden, swell and maybe even scar.

If acne does become a problem, there are different solutions. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends teens seek treatment early when acne doesn’t respond to over-the-counter treatments.

Finally, Dr. Flynn recommended a daily, oil-free moisturizer with SPF30.

Boys are often thought of as being tough, thick-skinned even. Be that as it may, I want them to at least make sure that skin is as healthy as can be.

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