What Causes Acne & How Should My Teen Treat It?

Acne usually starts in puberty, but it affects adults too. Around 80% of teenagers get some form of acne, and there are many myths about what causes it. Here are the facts and details of treatments.

There are better ways to treat acneAcne consists of spots and painful bumps on the skin. It’s most noticeable on the face, but can also appear on the back, shoulders and buttocks. Severe acne can cause scarring.

What Causes Acne?

Acne is mostly caused by the way skin reacts to hormonal changes. The skin contains sebaceous glands that naturally release sebum, an oily substance that helps protect it.

During puberty, raised levels of the hormone testosterone can cause too much sebum to be produced. This happens in both boys and girls.

The sebum can block hair follicles. When dead skin cells mix with the blockage, it can lead to the formation of spots. Bacteria in the skin multiply, which can cause pain and swelling (inflammation) beneath the blockages.

There are different kinds of spots:

  • Blackheads – small, blocked pores
  • Whiteheads – small, hard bumps with a white centre
  • Pustules – spots with a lot of pus visible
  • Nodules – hard, painful lumps under the skin

Inflammatory acne is when the skin is also red and swollen. This needs to be treated early to prevent scarring.

Try not to pick or squeeze spots as this can cause inflammation and lead to scarring. Spots will eventually go away on their own, but they might leave redness in the skin for some weeks or months afterwards.

Acne can become worse during times of stress. In women, it can be affected by the menstrual cycle. Sometimes acne can also occur during pregnancy.

If you have acne, wash your skin gently with a mild cleanser and use an oil-free moisturiser. Scrubbing or exfoliating can irritate the skin, making it look and feel sore.

Myths About Acne

There are several myths about what causes acne:


Many people say that eating chocolate or greasy food causes acne, but this isn’t true. There isn’t any evidence that acne is caused by what you eat. However, eating a balanced diet is good for your general health, so aim to have a healthy diet.

Bad Hygiene

Some people believe that acne is caused by bad personal hygiene, but this is not true. If you are going to get acne, you will get it no matter how much you clean your skin. Too much cleaning may make the condition worse by removing the protective oils in your skin.


There is also a myth that wearing make-up can cause spots, but there is no evidence that this is the case. The less you touch your skin, the fewer bacteria will be spread to your skin. If you wear make-up, wash your hands before putting your make-up on and always remove it before going to bed.

Treatments for Acne

Acne will usually go away on its own, but it can take many years. There are treatments for acne that can help clear it more quickly.

Over-the-counter treatments that you buy from a pharmacy can help with mild acne. Ask a pharmacist for advice on which treatment could help and how long you will have to use it. You may not see results for several weeks or months. Find your nearest pharmacy.

If over-the-counter treatments don’t help, treatments are available on prescription. Your GP (family doctor*) can assess how bad your acne is and discuss the options with you. Don’t be afraid to tell your GP how your acne affects your life and how it makes you feel.

Mild, non-inflammatory acne consists of whiteheads and blackheads. Treatments include gels or lotions that can contain retinoids (vitamin A), topical (applied to the skin) antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide (which is antibacterial) or azelaic acid.

These medications, or a combination of them, can also be used to treat mild-to-moderate inflammatory acne, which has some pustules and nodules. It can take up to eight weeks before you see a difference in your skin, and treatment may need to be continued for six months.

In women, contraceptive pills that contain oestrogen can also help clear acne.

If acne is severe, your GP (family doctor*) can refer you to a dermatologist, who may prescribe a stronger medication called isotretinoin (Roaccutane) (in the US may be known as Claravis, Sotret, Myorisan, Accutane, or Amnesteem*).

Find out about acne treatments, including isotretinoin.

Some light and laser therapies claim to help get rid of acne. However, few if any of these are available on the NHS (in the US, this may not be covered by your health insurance plan*).

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US audience.


Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 04-20-2015 to 04-26-2015

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
15 Grisly Teen Bullying Cases With Tragic Ends http://t.co/NtsZ381L2H
Please read & remember this whenever you question invading your kid’s privacy

What To Do If You’re Concerned About Your Kid’s Friends

Girl looking at her friendsBad friends. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: we imagine only the worse: drugs, smoking, sex, trouble with the law. But what should parents do if they notice that their daughter is hanging out more with a kid whose values don’t seem in sync with their own? Is there ever a time when you should forbid your son from being with a particular friend?

The bottom line on this one: It’s okay to have friends who are different from your child. After all, exposing our kids to diversity is a big part of helping to broaden their horizons, learn new skills and perspectives, and get along with others. The trick here is to figure out when the other kid’s values or lifestyle are really reckless, self-destructive or totally inappropriate. Consider this: could hanging around this kid damage your child’s character, reputation, or health? Keep in mind that our kids are rarely “made bad” by another kid, but the friends our kids choose to hang around with sure can increase the odds that he may—or may not—get into trouble.

Here are a few tips to help you handle these rougher waters of parenting.

  • Restate your standards. Be clear your child knows your family values and is aware of the consequence if he violates them. “No drugs, drinking, smoking.” “You always call to tell me where you are.” “You only go to homes where parents are there to supervise.” “You don’t leave one location and go to another without telling me.” A one time talk to your child isn’t going to cut it so plan to talk again and again.
  • Share your concerns. Instead of judging or criticizing your kid’s companion (which is guaranteed to end the conversation), describe the changes you see in your child. “I notice whenever you sit next to Kevin in class, I get a call from the teacher.” “You never swore before you starting hanging around that group.” If you’re not sure you understand what’s going on, ask questions. “You hid Ricky’s magazine when I came in your room. What exactly was it that you didn’t want me to see?”
  • Talk to the parent. Do try to talk to the other kid’s parent, and it’s best to do so as soon as your child befriends their child. Meeting personally would be ideal, but a phone call is usually more realistic. Try your best to be positive, friendly, and open minded. Exchange phone numbers. And if you haven’t taken time to do so with his other friends, make it a policy from now on.
  • Befriend your child’s friends. Get to them and let them know you are interested in their lives. You may see a different side. “Do you play any sports?” “How did you and Norma meet?”Are you in any of the same classes?” “Can you stay for dinner?”
  • Ask “What if..” A good way to assess your kid’s ability to handle peers who could be trouble is by posing “What if…” questions. You make up the problem scenario, but then listen to how your child responds. Her answers will be a springboard to talk about possible solutions she may face in bad company. “What if you go to a friend’s house and you there aren’t any parents there?” “What if you’re at a slumber party and your friends want to sneak out and (smoke, drink, meet boys, etc)?”
  • Get the facts. Talk to other parents, teachers, and adults whose opinions you value. Do they know the kid and share your concerns? Do their kids hang around with them? If not, why? What do they suggest?
  • Know where your kid is at all times. Make it clear that immediately after school (or any activity) you want to hear from him. If your child doesn’t have access to a cell phone or pager, give him a phone card and teach him how to use it or how to make collect phone calls. There should be no excuses.
  • Keep an open house. Stock your refrigerator with sodas, save those pizza coupons, and make your house “kid friendly” so your child’s friends want to come to your house. In fact, worry more if you kid doesn’t want to bring his friends over. Besides feeling more comfortable and knowing where your kid is, you’ll also be able to keep your eyes and ears open to see if your concerns are really grounded.
  • Foster new associations. The best way to limit time spent a potential bad friend is to find other social avenues to go down instead. Look for places she can make new friends such as Boys & Girls Club, scouts, clubs, music, sports. Arrange activities that your child really wants to do (the basketball team, guitar lessons, the art class).
  • Be prepared. Teach your child what to do any time he does not feel comfortable or thinks there could be trouble. Set up a code word that only you and your family know such as “Robin Hood,” “Trick or Treat,” “Jimmy called.” That way anytime you are talking to your child and his friends are listening, he can say the word and you’ll know you really want to come home. Also have a “parent support” group available in which you and another friend who knows your child well, agrees that anytime you’re not available your child will call her (and vice versa with their kid) to pick him up.
  • Watch for red flags. Are you seeing any changes in your child’s behavior that are big warning signs that things are becoming more serious? The key is to look for differences you’ve noticed in your child since she began hanging around with this companion: Grades slipping, tears, moodiness, red eyes (drugs), alcohol or smoke smell (or cologne to possibly cover up the smell), defiant or disrespectful attitude, hiding things or acting sneakily, sleeping too much, more accidents, a complete wardrobe change that is “not” your kid. Remember to direct your concerns to where it really counts: how your kid acts instead of how the other kids behave.
  • Forbid bad friend when serious issues emerge. If the companion clearly is a “bad influence” and is pushing your kid into experimenting with serious issues such as drugs, substance abuse, shoplifting, sex, smoking, it’s time to draw a halt to the relationship. This may be easier said than done, and you might need to consider the extreme: changing schools, a summer camp, a month at a relative’s, a boarding school, or even moving. In some cases it really may be the only option to prevent a potential tragedy.

Above all, keep the lines of communication open and your relationship warm and positive as your child. You want to convey the message loud and clear: “I love you.” “Remember, I’m always here for you.” Don’t let your dislike of your child’s friends hinder your relationship with your child.

************************************************************************************************************Borba - book cover -parentingsolutions140x180

Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research. The Big Book of Parenting Solutions is available at amazon.com

KidFit Pillow – A New Innovation for Better Child Sleep

Having practiced chiropractic for nearly 20 years, I frequently get asked the question, “What makes a good pillow?” There are many qualities that make a pillow a good pillow, but just as importantly, we need to ask, “What type of pillow is the best for me?” Although there is not one pillow that satisfies the needs and comfort of everyone, a good pillow, for most, is one that provides the ideal amount of support, together with the correct fit/size for that individual. This makes for a pillow that is not only comfortable but will also provide the healthy benefits of good cervical support and a restful night’s sleep, which translates into many other benefits, both mental and physical.

KidFit-child-friendly-pillowsIt was really years after both my children were born – well into their pillow using days – that I noticed one night how awkward my daughter’s head and neck were positioned on her pillow and how scrunched her shoulder was while sleeping on her side on a flat ‘leftover’ pillow. I must have watched her sleeping for 30 minutes. I asked myself, ‘Why have I not investigated into a good sleeping pillow for my children?’ So, I did!

Using as my guide the same principles of support and fit I had preached to my patients, I quickly realized that these principles were only vaguely applied to pillows for children. In fact, some ‘sleeping’ pillows were more cute than appropriate for sleeping. The selling phrases of ‘proper support’ and ‘made for kids’ can be seen on many of the products, but what I found were just poorly thought-out smaller versions of adult-sized pillows, and cheaply made, I might add.

I decided that I could design a better pillow than all of these, and KidFit Pillow was born. It took a few years of designing, redesigning, and testing before we launched the first version of our pillow, but it was well received and quickly won a ‘Parent Tested Parent Approved’ Award.

When we designed KidFit Pillow, it had to meet our checklist of requirements: it needed to have the correct amount of support, it needed to be size appropriate for the growing child, and it needed to be comfortable. In addition, it had to be kid friendly, meaning that it had to be washable and hypoallergenic.

We started with a quality memory foam core for support, and designed it in a way that would account for all the unpredictable ways children often sleep on pillows. We also perforated it with different sized holes to achieve different zones of density which further allowed for the proper support of the head and neck. KidFit-memory-foam-core-cropThen we wrapped the memory foam core with a removable, washable down-like microfiber cover for comfort. Finally, using the statistics of the average size and shoulder widths of the North American boys and girls, we developed three different sized pillows for three different age groups.

How important is it to have a good pillow? Extremely! A good pillow can not only impact the quality of sleep, but also how healthfully children rest and recharge. Aside from the benefits of correctly supporting the head and neck, proper sleep means better focus and improved learning in kids. Studies suggest that the quantity and quality of sleep have a profound impact on both learning and memory in children. In fact, a lack of adequate sleep affects their mood, emotional stability, motivation, judgment and their perception of events.


So how do we maximize our children’s physical and brain development with sleep?

  • Maximize both their quantity AND quality of sleep.
  • Children between the ages of 3-12 should be consistently getting a minimum of 10 hours of sleep every night. Studies show that children who are sleep-deprived are more likely to be depressed, to catch colds and flu, and to suffer accidents on the playground.
    • Just 1 hour less of sleep a night causes measurable memory and concentration problems.
  • Avoid watching too much TV, being on the computer, and playing video games for extended periods.
  • Avoid poor food choices (chips, french fries etc.), too much sugar, caffeinated soda etc.
    • Even just one caffeinated drink a day robs a child of half an hour of sleep each night.
  • Avoid overly exhausting children with too many “structured’ activities, which leads to very little down time. Participation in too many after school activities can get kids amped up and tends to push back dinnertime, homework time and ultimately bedtime.
    • Compared to 1981, the average kid has almost 2 hours less of unstructured time each day!
  • Don’t compromise their bed time with late night activities.

Note: KidFit Pillows can be found on Amazon. Also, check out the KidFit video on YouTube

Tips for Protecting Your Kids from Child Abuse

The chances of your child being harmed by an adult are very small. But there are still steps you can take to protect your child.

People who abuse children can come from all walks of life, and all ages, classes and professions. They can also be women.

protecting-kids-from-child-abuseOften, victims of child abuse know their abuser. It could be a family member, friend or someone in a trusted position, such as a coach or mentor. After abusing a child, abusers may tell a child to keep it a secret and even threaten them.

If you think a child is being abused, take action. Call the NSPCC child protection helpline on 0808 800 5000 or textphone 0800 056 0566 to talk about your concerns (in the US call your local Social Services or Children and Family Services Department*). If your child or a child you know is abused, call the police immediately. You could also talk to your GP (family doctor*), health adviser or social services for advice about child abuse.

How Child Abuse Happens

Abusers often ‘groom’ children before they abuse them. Grooming is the term used when an abuser gets to know a child, perhaps buying them presents or taking them for days out in order to gain their trust.

If a child doesn’t feel loved or is insecure at home they may be more vulnerable.

Abusers often put themselves in positions or places where they can be close to children, for example playgrounds, nurseries, parks and youth groups.

Sometimes, people who abuse children make friends with parents in order to get close to a child. Single parents may be more vulnerable to this.

Protecting Your Child

Perhaps the best thing you can do for your children is to make them feel loved and valued. Give them the confidence to believe in themselves and to get out of situations they don’t feel comfortable in.

Be very cautious if an adult acquaintance seems to be more interested in your child than you, for example if they always want to babysit or take your child out alone.

Let your child know that you are always there for them and will believe what they tell you. Children rarely lie about abuse.

Educate your children about stranger danger:

  • Give your child a curfew and emphasise how important it is that they let you know where they are at all times.
  • Make sure your child is not alone when they go out. Go with them to meet their friends and pick them up straight after.
  • Teach your child that it’s safer to hang around with a group of friends. If they have to walk to school without you, encourage them to walk with other children, particularly in winter when it gets dark early. Or, if you can’t pick them up, arrange for another friend or family member that your child is familiar with to meet them.
  • Teach your child to ignore strangers who talk to them. They can pretend they haven’t heard and walk away quickly.
  • Tell them that if an adult does anything to make them feel afraid, they must speak up and get to a safe place immediately.
  • Tell your child that they must never get into a car with someone they don’t know. If someone in a car asks them for directions, they must keep away from the car so that they cannot be grabbed and can run away if they need to.

Educate Your Child

Educate your child from an early age about his or her body. Let them know that their body is their own. Tell them which parts are private and should not be touched by anybody.

Sex education should start early so children understand what is appropriate and what is not. Children who are abused often don’t understand what is happening to them. Learn more in Talking to your teenager about sex.

Many children feel afraid to disobey an adult. Teach them that if any adult makes them uncomfortable, scares them or touches them in a way that is not right, whether it’s a stranger or someone they know, they have the right to say no and to shout for help.

Tell them that they should get away from that person immediately and then come and tell you.

Your Child Online

Chat rooms and social networking sites on the internet are ideal for abusers and paedophiles looking for children. Abusers can pretend to be anyone, and gain the confidence and trust of a child.

Don’t panic and ban your child from using the internet altogether. The internet is a useful tool. If you ban them from using it, they won’t learn how to use it safely.

Instead, take an interest in what they do online, and keep an eye out for changes in their online behaviour. For example, they may suddenly spend much longer online, or trying to hide what they’re doing.

Supervise your child to make sure they don’t visit any sites that you’re unhappy with.

Talk to your child about the dangers of chatrooms and social networking sites. Tell them never to give out personal details such as their real name, address, email or phone number.

Ask them what they would do in certain situations, for example if someone in a chatroom asks for personal information.

Always have your family computer in a room where you can see what your child is doing.

It may be best to prevent a young child from posting photographs of themself and their friends online. Talk to the parents of your child’s friends about this, and find out what their policy on internet use is. Other children could post group photographs that include your child.

If your child makes a friend on the internet and wants to meet up with them in person, never let them go without an adult. Go with them yourself if you can, and make sure you meet in a public place with lots of people around, for example a café or shopping centre.

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US audience.


Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 04-13-2015 to 04-19-2015

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Use of E-Cigarettes Rises Sharply Among Teenagers, Report Says http://t.co/FI1ZvzU6gl