You might have to start talking about acne with your children earlier than you think. While we expect acne in our teenagers, an increasing number of much younger children are now coping with acne as part of a trend toward earlier onset puberty.
While most girls start developing at age 10-11 years and boys at 11-12 years, a significant and growing proportion of children are starting to develop at about 8-9 years... or even earlier. Better nutrition and living conditions are believed to be the most likely reasons for earlier onset of puberty but why some children start younger than others is not entirely clear.
Importantly, children who develop acne at young ages tend to experience more severe acne later on, so early and effective treatment is important to prevent some of the emotional and physical consequences of acne.
Acne at any age can lead to physical scarring. Just as important though, is the potential impact on self confidence and social interactions. It’s not surprising that young children experiencing early puberty might have trouble coping with being different. They are just as exposed to the media image of perfect skin and perfect bodies as teenagers and when their bodies are developing out of synch with their friends, they’re subject to teasing and bullying.
Reinforce that the changes to their bodies are normal – they’re just growing up a little earlier than their friends. As for the acne, treat it much the same as teenage acne. Over the counter treatments and prescribed topical treatments are safe to use in younger children with acne.
Your GP or a dermatologist will be able to prescribe age-appropriate treatments if your child’s acne is not responding to over the counter treatments.