As our daughter slides into middle school, I'm reminded just how much I loved middle school. I know that for many, middle school was a dark, awful time that they'd just as soon forget, but it wasn't like that for me. Because of that, I try to talk about it to her as if it's NOT going to be the worst three years of her life and instead lean into it.
That said, one of the things I DON'T miss about middle school was... acne. My face was a mess in middle school and nothing seemed to help get it under control. Of course, I want Nila to have a different experience if possible, and so we're trying to follow some doctor's advice about how to keep a clear head and face.
I thought I'd share those with you in case you're looking for some direction, too. And, if you're doing something else that's really working for you, please do share it in the comments below. You never know when something you share will help another family power through triumphantly.
How to Help Middle Schoolers Keep A Clear Face
1. Drink plenty of water.
This one should go without saying but our bodies need water to help clear out all of junk in them. This can be hard for middle schoolers if they don't, or can't, take a water bottle to class with them. Luckily, at Nila's school, they're allowed. Now if only I can get her take it every day.
2. Get regular sleep, and probably more than you'd think they need.
Middle schoolers are growing at about the same rate as newborns. They need lots of sleep to help their bodies recover from that stress. Nationwide Children's Hospital says they need between 9 and 12 hours of sleep a night. Twelve is probably really hard to get to at this age because of homework and after school activities. Right now, Nila's getting about 9 hours and I honestly feel like she's not rested. Another hour would do her good, but it's hard to stop the party that is bedtime (at least in our house).
3. Wash your face, but not too much and not too hard.
I think this is probably where I went wrong as a kid. I thought I could wash away any blemishes, especially if I scrubbed hard enough. That only encouraged my skin to make MORE oil, which in turn clogged up pores, which in turn caused more acne.
Instead, a light wash twice a day will do.
You might have also heard that you should use a wash with Benzoyl peroxide, or Salicylic acid. WebMd explains the difference between the two, and what each one is used for:
Benzoyl peroxide. For mild acne, you may try, or your doctor may recommend, treatment with a nonprescription drug that contains benzoyl peroxide. It's believed that this compound works by destroying the bacteria associated with acne. It usually takes at least four weeks to work and it must be used continuously to keep acne at bay. Like many over-the-counter and prescription products, it does not affect sebum production or the way the skin follicle cells are shed, and when you stop using it, the acne comes back. It is available in many forms: creams, lotions, washes, and gels. Benzoyl peroxide can cause dry skin and can bleach fabrics, so take care when applying it. Consider wearing an old T-shirt to bed if you are applying it to your back or chest overnight.
Salicylic acid. On the skin, salicylic acid helps to correct the abnormal shedding of cells. For milder acne, salicylic acid helps unclog pores to resolve and prevent lesions. It does not have any effect on sebum production and does not kill bacteria. It must be used continuously, just like benzoyl peroxide, because its effects stop when you stop using it -- pores clog up again and the acne returns. Salicylic acid is available in many acne products, including lotions, creams, and pads.
If you have especially oily skin, you may need to use an astringent or toner. Only apply it to parts of your face that are most oily and discontinue use if your skin becomes irritated.
Use hydrocortisone cream to spot treat a big pimple if you have an event the next day.
And to help dry out a pimple quick, a little dab of Crest toothpaste left on overnight will help reduce it. It won't kill the bacteria or unplug the pores permanently, but it can help dry it out enough overnight to reduce the swelling and redness.
Here's what we're using right now, and it seems to be working just fine. That's not to say that Nila NEVER has a blemish (I don't think that's reasonable), but for the most part, it's under control.
I think she may need a moisturizer, too, but I haven't purchased one yet. Just because skin is oily, doesn't mean it's properly moisturized.
Dr. Eric Schweiger, founder of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City said,
"You'll need moisturizer, but not just any one will do. "Look for non-comedogenic moisturizers, meaning they won't clog pores. Skincare ingredients to steer clear of if you have acne include mineral oil, cocoa butter, lanolin and petrolatum." Alternatively, you do want to reach for "moisturizers that contain glycerin, hyaluronic acid, aloe and squalane, which won't trap oils into the pores."
One of the lotions he recommends is this Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with Sunscreen.
5. Wash hair regularly.
The hairline is a great place for sweat and grime to collect and can often cause acne right around the hairline. Washing it at least every other day is necessary in our house. Also, our pediatrician recommends the same to keep allergens off pillows at night.
These are the five tips we're working from right now. What does your family do? Here's what a few families from Facebook had to say about it (Click to read the comments):
Any advice for other families just getting started with a skincare routine? What did YOU do in middle school - did it work?