By Dr Renita Rajan – Celebrity Cosmetic Dermatologist, Founder of RENDER Clinics
Teenage is a difficult area to navigate, from hormone debuts to mood swings to self-doubts -typically a period where change is constant. Nowhere this flux is more reflected, than in the skin and the hair!
Oil, oil everywhere: Teenage is powered by three major hormone sets, the growth hormone and the estrogen-testosterone group, and hormones of the adrenal gland. The interactions of these hormones are such that they stimulate sebaceous gland hyperactivity at the end organ level. This may be seen as pimples, scaly scalp, truncal acne, and greasy skin.
Since the skin makes so much oil, adding extra oil in the name of scalp massages and oil baths, is a strict no–no. Not only will this cause more occlusion of the skin, more acne, and more inflammation, persistent comedones and acne can lead to long-term scarring. Opt for regular scalp cleansing, face washes done thrice daily, and a bath once to twice daily depending on weather and activity level, and you can keep the oil at bay, to a good extent. Avoid wrong skincare habits like touching the facial skin often, handling acne, using random home remedies like applying garlic or toothpaste on pimples etc. Instead, do this – change pillows frequently, avoid hairstyles that draw the hair onto the face, stay hydrated, cut nails short and keep them clean, and remove makeup and/or sunscreen off the face before going to bed. Acne scars are best prevented than treated, so seek the opinion of an expert dermatologist in time, to avoid scars from long-standing acne.
Too much hair and too less hair: While there is hair growth happening over the underarms, and the pubic regions, hair loss on the scalp seems to make its onset. Hair loss in this age group can be nutritional, especially with menstrual blood loss in girls. Other causes of hair loss could be micronutrient deficiency from poor meal habits, inadequate macros from skipping meals, and overall, not having a healthy nutrition plan, during a phase of rapid growth. Again, an additional problem for young girls could be the development of facial hair. While this indicates incoming hormones, it may also signal an early onset pattern of hair loss depending on family genetics, and may need the help of a specialist. Also, boys may notice a change in the shape of the hairline, with the adult M pattern hairline slowly
coming into existence. The best thing to do for hair management is to focus on inner wellness – start with a healthy sleep cycle. Natural melatonin secretion which happens when we go to bed on time, reduces excessive
hair loss and premature greying, over and beyond what’s due to our genetic destiny. A high-protein diet, timely meals, and a balanced intake of micronutrients will go a long way in managing a teen’s hair loss. Equally important is seeking help at the right time, in case the hair loss is persistent, or there is significant and visible thinning of hair. Scalp care is super important for teens. Poor scalp hygiene can lead to forehead, T zone and truncal acne. And it is not uncommon to see lice on the hair of teenagers, even those who can be considered affluent. Scalp and hair should be washed twice to thrice weekly, and it is good to follow through with a leave-in conditioner to protect the hair from wear and tear.
Again, cleansing and keeping underarms and private parts hygienic makes a huge difference in avoiding fungal infections and body odor. Laser hair removal is perfectly safe for teens and is recommended over shaving and waxing, as a standard of care.
Finally, personal hygiene for teens is a matter of leading by example. On one hand, we see boys and girls who completely disregard any kind of self-care as part of the teenage angst, but we also see at the other extreme, children who are highly anxious and stressed about their appearance, thanks to peer pressure. And here it is good to remember that it is a fine balance between letting go and anchoring your teen, for just about any teenage issue. The same is true of skin and hair as well!