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Helping Your Teen with Eczema

Teen with Eczema scratching her shoulder

Of all the challenges teens face on the road to adulthood, their appearance is one of the most stressful. How they look defines their personality and differentiates between being accepted or excluded.

Unfortunately, eczema magnifies that problem. Eczema causes a red, inflamed, severely itchy rash that appears in areas that are hard to hide, like behind the knees, on wrists and ankles, and worse, on the face, neck, and upper chest.

At Allure Dermatology Franklin Square, Theresa Durchhalter, DO, FAAD, understands that eczema causes more than uncomfortable physical symptoms. Its appearance is embarrassing, crushes a teen’s self-esteem, and often leads to depression.

Beyond providing expert medical care, she also offers practical self-care tips and teaches parents the following seven ways to support their teens.

Understand eczema’s impact

Most kids can attend a social event and enjoy their favorite activities without any worries. By comparison, teens with eczema must first consider how the activity will affect their skin. Then, they’re often in the uncomfortable position of turning down an invitation or avoiding activities.

For example, your teen may love playing sports and want to join the school’s team, then discover that scratchy uniforms or protective gear triggers their eczema. Even without external irritants, sweating alone may aggravate their skin.

Parents can help by discussing situations that may cause problems and brainstorming accommodations that make activities possible. In the sports example, your teen may be able to tolerate the activity by upping their skincare game.

Remember, you’re not alone. We’re here to help your teen and can suggest changes supporting their ability to stay active and keep up with their friends.

Identify triggers

Eczema goes through cycles. Your teen may have clear skin for a time, then wake up to a sudden flare-up.

These flare-ups are triggered by many possible irritants, including:

As a parent, you may recognize triggers before your teen. You can also work with them, keeping a journal to track flares and what happened that could be the trigger. Then, create a plan to help your teen avoid them.

Teach the importance of skin care

Everyone with eczema has an impaired skin barrier (the outer layer of skin), a problem they can overcome with diligent skin care that includes regular use of moisturizers.

Your teen’s skin care routine is the most important step they can take to protect their skin and prevent eczema flares. We teach teens and parents about effective skin care and habits to follow, like using warm (not hot) water and gentle skin care products.

Monitor skin care products and cosmetics

Teens often feel pressure from peers and social media to try different toiletries and cosmetics. However, many products contain ingredients that trigger eczema.

Stocking the bathroom with gentle products helps your teen stick with nourishing skin care that doesn’t irritate their skin.

If they want to experiment, you can teach them to test new products first, applying them to a small area to see if they cause a skin reaction.

Be open about stress, anxiety, and mental health concerns

Watch for anxiety, sadness, depression, withdrawal from their friends, and falling grades. Open a conversation if you’re concerned about their emotional health, and give them the chance to talk. Consider having them see a therapist if they don’t improve in a few weeks.

Don’t nag about skin care

Your teen knows why caring for their skin is essential and how to do it. Check in with them if you notice a flare. Otherwise, give them space.

If they don’t follow through with routine skin care, they’ll quickly learn its importance when a flare-up occurs.

Do oversee medications

The medications used for eczema are effective but can cause side effects, making it crucial to use them as directed. Parents should monitor their child’s medication use and call us right away if their teen develops any medicine-related problems.

Call Allure Dermatology Franklin Square or book an appointment online if your teen needs medical care for eczema.

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