‘Spot’ the changes

‘Hashtag Pimples.’ Growing up isn’t easy according to this teenage production from PETA

‘Hashtag Pimples.’ Growing up isn’t easy according to this teenage production from PETA

How parents can help their children through puberty
Raging hormones and changes in the physical and emotional anatomy  of teenagers can be stressful and challenging to both children and parents alike.

While boys and girls struggle with the wonders of puberty, there are parents who find themselves in denial over how quickly their little ones have grown, and as such feel helpless on how best to help them.

The transition from childhood to young adulthood usually starts with issues on body image. According to a forum organized by soap brand Safeguard, acne formation—more commonly known as pimples—is widely regarded as the top problem of teenagers nowadays. Not only are pimples, zits or spots a skin health issue for teens, but these breakouts may also be the root cause of low self-esteem in the age bracket.

As a creative introduction to the forum, actors from the Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA) mounted a musical production that explored teenage tales of puberty. Four teeners presented the most common daily struggles of young adults, among them, “life-changing decisions” such as applying for an internship or deciding on a college course. School projects and deadlines, a sudden interest in the opposite sex, and dealing with romantic feelings, while trying hard to detach themselves from being a “baby” at home are of earth-shattering consequences. Add to these, girls getting their first period, and both sexes growing body hair and sprouting pimples.

In dissecting the presentation, medical and scholastic experts Dr. Ma. Pilar Lagdameo-Leuenberger of the Philippine Dermatological Society, and De La Salle University Manila counseling psychologist Dr. Susan Estanislao outlined the specific challenges boys and girls go through at this stage, and the ways parents can support them through the daunting phase.

“The most common cause of acne in teenagers is the hormonal surge. Their body is transitioning to adulthood and the increase in hormones causes the appearance of pimples. Teenagers also engage in more activities at this age and deal with more stress, which may aggravate their pimples. For girls in particular, this is additionally the stage where they experiment with different cosmetic products, since they become more conscious with their appearance, and again, using makeup can affect their skin,” Dr. Leuenberger explained.

The prevalence of self-reported acne among 15- to 25-year-olds is as high as 91 percent in a report published by the Skin Health Alliance. On the personal care front, Safeguard concurrently launched a new soap variant, Derma Sense, to arm parents in helping their children control unwanted acne. Specific to acne-prone skin, the product is made with 20-percnet less soap and with no added alcohol in order to provide gentle yet thorough cleansing.

“Bacteria is the critical root in the cause of acne,” stressed Dr. Leuenberger. “And the first step in managing mild to moderate acne is keeping the skin protected through regular washing with an antibacterial soap.”

Besides taking on a skincare routine, the dermatologist also advised parents to set an example for their teens in leading a healthy lifestyle by eating the right food, drinking a lot of water and engaging exercise.

As for the psychological effects of puberty, Dr. Estanislao related, “Teens become more disturbed by their body image, which results in low self esteem. They may feel a sense of worthlessness at this time, especially if they experience stress in school and among their peers, and lack a strong support system of family, specifically their parents, to guide them.”

As such, she counsels parents first of all to be a reassuring force in their children’s lives. Constant communication is key in being able to listen to their “issues,” offer them advise on how to deal with their problems, and more importantly, boost their self-esteem.

“Keep a quality life at home, and remind your children to choose the right circle of friends, and to talk to you or a counselor in school [when they need to],” she added.

Celebrity stylist Jenni Ep–person said it best when she joined the discussion with this sharing, “I talk to my daughter all the time, and we’re like friends. I always tell her if she lets negative feedback from people affect her, it will only hurt her. So my best advise to my daughter and her fellow teens is this: Don’t bother what other people think of you and just be yourself.”


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