Nurturing Pre-Teen Skin: Six Skin Care Tips for Active Youth

Pre-teen (tween) years mark an exciting period of growth and exploration, accompanied by physical changes and newfound independence. As pre-teens engage in sports activities, their skin faces unique challenges due to increased sweat, exposure to environmental elements, and hormonal fluctuations. Our Dermatology Providers at Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer have some tips for pre-teen skin care, focusing on sports-related concerns. By understanding these challenges and implementing effective skin care practices, pre-teens can maintain healthy, glowing skin while pursuing their athletic passions.

1. Cleanse Effectively:

Pre-teens involved in sports activities will likely accumulate sweat, dirt, and bacteria on their skin. A proper cleansing routine is crucial to maintain a clean and healthy complexion. Encourage pre-teens to use a gentle cleanser formulated for their skin type and wash their face immediately after sports sessions to remove impurities. Emphasize the importance of cleansing without excessive scrubbing, as it can irritate the skin. Additionally, remind them to cleanse other areas prone to sweat, such as the neck, back, and chest. By effectively removing sweat and grime, pre-teens can prevent clogged pores and reduce the risk of breakouts.

2. Combat Acne Breakouts:

Hormonal changes during the pre-teen years can contribute to increased oil production and acne breakouts. Engaging in sports activities adds another layer of complexity, as sweat and friction can exacerbate these concerns. It’s important to take proactive steps to combat acne. We recommend gentle, non-comedogenic cleansers, oil-free moisturizers, and sunscreens to prevent pore clogging. Encourage them to avoid touching their face during sports activities, or any time for that matter, as this can transfer bacteria and worsen breakouts. Additionally, spot treatments containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid effectively target blemishes, and yes, have them keep their hands off those blemishes! If over-the-counter medicine is not helping, consult with a Dermatology Provider that can help develop a plan that works for your tween.

3. Sun Protection is Non-Negotiable:

Active pre-teens spend considerable time outdoors, making sun protection an absolute must. The Skin Cancer Foundation stresses that sun exposure can lead to sunburn, premature aging, and an increased risk of skin cancer. Educate pre-teens about the importance of applying sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30, even on cloudy days. Always have them apply sunscreen before leaving the house every morning, before any outdoor activity, and remind them to reapply every two hours. Sweat-resistant and water-resistant broad-spectrum formulas are best to ensure protection during sports activities. They can also wear protective clothing, such as wide-brimmed hats and lightweight, breathable fabrics that shield the skin from harmful UV rays. By instilling sun protection habits early on, pre-teens can reduce the risk of sun damage and maintain healthier skin in the long run.

4. Hydration and Sports:

Intense physical activities result in excessive sweating, which can lead to dehydration. Hydration is vital in maintaining healthy skin, as it helps flush out toxins and keeps the skin supple. It is also crucial for the healthy functioning of their bodies. Encourage pre-teens to drink plenty of water before, during, and after sports activities to replenish lost fluids. Emphasize the importance of avoiding sugary drinks and opt for water as the primary source of hydration. Pre-teens can incorporate hydrating foods such as watermelon, cucumbers, and oranges into their diet. Well-hydrated skin is less prone to dryness, irritation, and premature aging, enabling pre-teens to enjoy their sports activities while maintaining a vibrant complexion.

5. Developing a Healthy Skin Care Routine:

This is a great time to start your tween on a skin care routine habit. This doesn’t have to be anything too complicated. When it comes to pre-teen skin care, less is more. Opt for products specifically formulated for young skin. Look for gentle, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens. Avoid products that contain harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances, or excessive exfoliating agents. Three basic steps are essential; depending on their specific skin and needs, they can add additional steps.

  • Cleanse – for an active tween, this is an essential step. Cleansing after a workout or soon after is key. Get them in the habit of cleansing at night and then in the morning using a gentle, non-comedogenic, fragrance-free cleanser.
  • Moisturize – regardless of what type of skin your pre-teen has, this step is important. It helps keep their skin hydrated and balanced. It’s best to use a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer, and they can do this once or twice a day.
  • Protect – Always have them do this step after moisturizing in the morning and before leaving the house. We recommend a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Allow them to pick one they like. It doesn’t hurt to try out different ones until they find what works for them.

Once they cover these three basics, they can add toner if their skin is oily to rebalance the skin’s pH level. A soothing face mask once or twice a week to calm any redness or inflammation caused by intense workouts can be an excellent addition.

6. Starting Pre-Teens on Cleanliness Habits

  • Stress the importance of clean workout gear to prevent bacterial growth and skin irritation. Equipment, such as helmets, gloves, or anything that touches their body, should be cleaned and sanitized at least once a week. The American Dermatology Association talks about how athletes can develop a type of acne called acne mechanica from sports equipment and clothing that create the perfect environment for acne to develop. They also provide tips to help with that.
  • An active pre-teen spends much time in moist environments and wet clothing, which can lead to other skin concerns, such as athlete’s foot. Also called tinea pedis, this is a contagious fungus that thrives in warm and moist areas such as locker room floors. To avoid this fungus, it’s essential to wash and thoroughly dry feet regularly, don’t keep them in wet socks or shoes for too long, wear clean socks made of breathable materials, and avoid walking barefoot in public places (it’s best to wear flip flops in these areas). Products are available to treat tinea pedis. If no improvement is seen after a few weeks, check with your Dermatologist for other treatment options.
  • Cleanliness, in general, is an essential habit. Remind them of things such as washing pillowcases regularly, using clean towels to dry their faces, and keeping their cell phones clean. Sharing personal items can spread bacteria, so emphasize the importance of not sharing towels, washcloths, makeup or skin care products with others.

At Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer, we are always available to help navigate any Medical or Cosmetic Dermatology issues your family may encounter at any age. Our Providers include Board-Certified Dermatologists, Certified Physician Assistants, Advanced Registered and Certified Nurse Practitioners, and Cosmetic Specialists, and we aim to provide the highest level of care for all our patients. You can book an appointment online for any of our locations in Coeur d’Alene, Spokane North, or Spokane Valley.