Teenage Acne: How to Wash Your Face, Apply your Acne Medicine and Change your Diet!
February 23, 2020
I saw one of my long-time teenage patients recently. Her little sibling had a follow-up appointment and she was just with her family that day. Outside the clinic walls, I exercise my social awareness and skills and do not just blurt out comments. But when I enter our building and I put on my HMO badge, I am YOUR PEDIATRICIAN. I take my role seriously. I even wrote in my HMO on-line bio ten years ago.
“There is no greater honor than being the doctor for your child. I take that role seriously and try to provide you with sound advice and guidance based on the latest medical research, along with common sense. I believe we function as a team (family, teachers, and doctors) to make sure our children grow into productive, contributing, and healthy members of society. I believe in fully vaccinating your children and the power of prevention.”
But in that role as YOUR PEDIATRICIAN, my patients who know me well know that I can sometimes be blunt. “Why would you do that?” I often answer to parents when they ask the latest new fangled trend. Essential oils. Coconut milk for infants. Some kind of ionic water (that ended quickly). Making your own formula. Mother’s eating their placenta. When I see those amber-bead necklaces some parents put on their 6 month olds that are supposed to ward off teething pain, I will comment quickly, “That is a choking hazard.” Then I’ll move on quickly into the rest of the visit.
When I see a 11 or 12-year-old middle schooler wearing make-up, I will tell them “Why would you wear make up?” Obviously if the child is having psychiatric issues or stress of any type, I will curb my comments. But for the run-a-mill patient that I know well and have established a good relationship, I am who I am. I probably get away with this because I am not that tall. But my ancestral people repelled imperialist invaders from the North for over a thousand years and still have our ancestral lands, albeit under a now totalitarian government. We may be small, but we can be fierce.
In that same vein of seemingly innocucous appearing pediatrician on the outside but fierce eco-warrior and protector of my ancestral lands/culture on the inside, I told one of the teenagers yesterday when I walked in, “Didn’t I just give you acne medicine?” Indeed I had, and it wasn’t quite working as well as we had hoped. She didn’t have a visit, but I had forgotten to tell her some acne basics which I will detail now. So this post is for her, and for all the other teenagers that I see that have acne. I try to spend as much time with you as possible, but honestly I am not given enough time in our short visit to go over the details of skin care. And your parents would rather not pay a separate copay just to have acne advice. Usually the acne visit is sandwiched in between addressing your grades, your back pain, your moodiness, and your neck pain because you are on Instagram too much. If you are on Instagram, you can follow your pediatrician @drplasticpicker LOL. In general though, less social media please. Your parents will pay hundreds of dollars for some random over the counter acne treatment that won’t work. Adults don’t make much sense. Including those adults that designed those “acne treatments” that don’t and are making millions off your own parents before they reach my office.
But Dr. Plastic Picker makes sense, and I don’t make any money off bringing you in for simple visits. So please pick up your acne medicine, and read below. This is the same acne advice I have applied to my two children who have acne, which is under relative control. Much of this information is from my 15 years of experience and collated from several lectures I heard at the AAP National Conference and Exhibit 2019 in New Orleans https://drplasticpicker.com/drplasticpicker-goes-to-the-aap-national-conference-in-new-orleans-and-tries-to-use-less-plastic/. Those dermatology talks were really really really good.
So here it is. You are a Teenager with Acne: How To Wash Your Face, Apply your Acne Medicine, and Change your Diet!
- Food Choices Affect Acne: Yes, your mother and grandmother are right. All that junk food that you are eating, is bad for the earth and bad for your skin. High glycemic index foods (fast food, processed foods, cookies/cakes/candies, soda/juice) make acne worse. Technically they lead in increased Inuslin/IGF-1 levels and stimulate sebocytes (oil making cells). They suppress Sex Hormone Binding Globulin, which is a protein that binds testosterone. Therefore there is more androgen (testosterone-like) effects on the body. Avoid excessive milk (although whole fat milk is OK), all chocolate except dark chocolate, and whey protein supplements. In general, eat more fruits and vegetables and more fiber rich foods https://drplasticpicker.com/pediatric-advice-eat-your-vegetables-to-get-your-fiber/.
- Wash Your Face Twice A Day: Yes, let us go to basics. You have to wash your wash twice a day to remove oil and prepare your skin for the acne medications. Last few pediatric dermatology lectures I attended, the dermatologist did not recommend the salicylic acid acne washes and advised avoiding all those grape-fruit extract face washes. They instead recommended Neutral pH synthetic detergent cleansers (non-soaps) like cetaphil cleanser or cerave cleanser. Our daughter prefers Cerave, and our son uses Cetaphil.
- Moisturize the Skin: Moisutrizing the skin is important to protect the skin and reduce irritation and dryness that can be caused from the topical acne medicine that @drplasticpicker prescribed you. I usually advise you to use a moisturizer that has sunscreen of either the Cetaphil or Cerave line. In general avoid things with perfumes and fragrances or any product that is too expensive.
- Use A Sunscreen Daily
- Exfoliate Twice A Week: Gentle exfoliation is okay, and I recommend usually twice a week is enough. This is especially important if you have more comedomal acne. Since this is an ocean plastic picking blog, your pediatrician shudders about the thought of those microplastic beads. Most of them have been outlawed. There are non-plastic ways to exfoliate. I had a dermatologist friend and several parents recently compliment me on my skin. My make-up routine is very basic with just light foundation and a bit of sunscreen. So I think my skin looks pretty good. It helps that your pediatrician is not in active puberty. I exfoliate and I have our daughter exfoliate with just a dime sized amount of old-fashioned baking soda for less than 30 seconds for the entire face twice a week. I use a gentle circular motion with the tips of my fingers.
- Change your Pillow Covers Frequently: This is to prevent the facial oils absorbed from the previous evenings from redeploying onto your skin. Mr. Plastic Picker has always placed a terry cloth bath towel over his pillow. I am writing this blog and reading him snippets, and he reminded me that he has always had nice skin. This bath towel thing used to drive me crazy, but there are definite benefits for the skin. Mr. Plastic Picker does have very nice skin, although very elastic and I sometimes think he has a collagen disorder.
- Wear a Headband to Keep your Hair Away from your Face at Night. This is especially food to help with acne around the hair-line.
So here is the advice I did not have time to tell you in clinic. So please remember at least to wash your face twice a day! That is half the battle.
Disclaimer I put on all the medical advice posts. I am passionate about the environment and children’s health. Here is general advice that is delivered in tongue-in-cheek, entertaining blog format. This is not meant to be definitive and I always ask you to check with your own medical provider, and use common sense. If you are a patient, this blog is for entertainment purposes and environmental advocacy only – so please go through normal procedures to contact me at the office through the patient portal. Where I will likely tell you the advice above, LOL.