You might need to start talking about acne earlier than you think

While we expect acne in our teenagers, an increasing number of younger children are coping with acne as part of a trend toward early 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 eight to nine years, or even earlier. 

Better nutrition and living conditions are believed to be the most likely reasons for early puberty but why some children start younger than others is not entirely clear. 

Children who develop acne at young ages tend to experience more severe acne later on – so early and effective treatment is critical to prevent some of the emotional and physical consequences.

Acne at any age can lead to physical scars, but it also affects self-confidence and social interactions. It’s not surprising that young children experiencing early puberty might have trouble coping with being different. They’re 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 can experience teasing and bullying.  

It’s important for parents to reinforce that the changes to their bodies are normal – they’re just growing up a little earlier than their friends. In terms of treating the acne, over the counter treatments and prescribed topical treatments are safe to use in younger children.  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.

Find out about medical treatments for acne