Talking to Teens about Acne | What to Say ( & What Not to Say)

Talking to teens about acne

Because acne is such a miserable experience, most adults remember their own struggles with adolescent skin issues. What do you say when talking to teens about acne?  Out of empathy, these adults might want to say something comforting or encouraging to teens currently suffering from acne.


Since it’s a sensitive topic, however, this kind effort can sometimes backfire, making the teenagers feel even worse. Usually, teenagers are acutely aware of the reality of their acne. If you say something that is clearly untrue, they may recognize the falsehood and ignore the message behind your words.


This message is important, so don’t let bad wording block its power. The teens you care about should know they are valuable and awesome despite their skin problems. To communicate this idea successfully, you must be honest as well as kind.


Don’t Say: “You Can Barely See It” or “No One Notices It”


Teens know this isn’t true. They see the acne every time they look in the mirror, and they notice it on other people, too. Plus, this statement disproves itself; you wouldn’t mention the acne unless you had noticed it.


Instead, Say: “You’re Beautiful Anyway” or “You’re Handsome Anyway”


Although they hope their acne will eventually fade, teens still want to look good in the meantime. They won’t believe their acne has disappeared if it hasn’t, but they might believe that they can look good in spite of the blemishes.


Most likely, they have put a lot of effort into improving their appearance. They may disguise their acne with makeup, hide it with carefully draped hairstyles, or distract from it with flashy accessories or clothes. Since they’re trying to look good despite the acne, and since that goal is entirely reachable, they might believe you when you say – truthfully – that they look great.


Don’t Say: “Nobody Cares About It” When Talking to Teens About Acne


Teens recognize the falsity of this statement instinctively, because they care – sometimes intensely – about their struggles with acne. Plus, again, this statement disproves itself. You must care about it, or you must understand that the average teen cares about it. Otherwise, why would you bring it up?


If you have to lie to provide comfort, then the teens you’re trying to comfort might reach the wrong conclusion – that their faces look so terrible, no truth could be flattering.


Instead, Say: “People Understand”


The vast majority of people have experienced acne. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology found that almost 85 percent of people in America get acne at some point, usually during adolescence. A quick look around a room full of teenagers illustrates this statistic.


Nevertheless, acne can make teens feel isolated and judged. They often feel like their acne is worse than anyone else’s. They worry that people think poorly of them because of their skin. So tell them that most people understand the affliction and, hence, won’t judge them based on their acne. This piece of comfort rings true, and it might provide some relief.


Don’t Say: “Have You Tried…”


Even if a juice cleanse worked for your cousin or an essential oil helped your college roommate, don’t give a teenager unsolicited advice about treating acne. This action implies that the acne is so terrible, you have to step in and try to cure it.


Teenager who has cleared his acneInstead, Say: “It Won’t Last Forever”


If you were totally honest, you would have to admit that dealing with acne is unpleasant, painful, and embarrassing. Fortunately, it’s also temporary.


It’s easy to lose sight of that simple fact, though, when you face the same problem day after day. Remind the teens you care about that adolescence, although an important and intense part of the human life cycle, only leads to bigger and better things.


Complement teens for non-physical attributes – like courage, initiative, compassion, and diligence – to help them focus on longer-lasting traits. Acne doesn’t need to affect a teen’s happiness, character development, or success in life.