Being a teenager

Adolescence and puberty can be a challenging time for anyone to cope with. Many changes happen in the body and in the way we experience emotions. This section looks at some of the changes that will take place and considers ways to help us feel good about ourselves.

As people grow, their bodies change. Some of the most rapid changes take place between the ages of 10 and 18, although some people, especially girls, are starting to go through puberty at an even younger age. During puberty your body will produce more hormones. These are chemicals that tell your body which changes to make and how to make them. Some of the hormones produced are the male and female sex hormones. These make teenage bodies take on the characteristics of male and female adult bodies.

Feeling moody and don’t know why? Don’t worry, it’s normal.

When these changes begin, it’s easy to feel that they are only happening to you and nobody else has ever gone through this. You may find some of the physical changes worrying, or get sudden mood swings - feeling happy one moment and fed up the next, and for no apparent reason! The important thing is to realise that this is normal and that others will be experiencing similar feelings, even if they don’t admit it.

Skin Changes: Spots

One of the things that teenagers often worry about is spots. As we go through puberty, the glands in the skin produce sebum – an oily waxy substance which keeps your skin flexible and waterproof. In your teenage years you seem to produce more sebum than before. This can make your hair and skin greasy. If the hair follicles become blocked with this sebum, blackheads and spots can develop.

Everyone gets spots at some time or another.

Everyone gets spots at some time or another, but it tends to happen more during puberty. The difficult thing is that this is when we are most likely to feel self-conscious about them too! Most spot breakouts can be treated or controlled by having a good personal hygiene routine and a good balanced diet - although in some cases strong hormonal change can make keeping them under control a tough job. Occasionally, in more serious cases, seeking your doctor’s advice may be a good idea.

Skin Changes: Sweating

Sweating is a natural process where the body releases moisture to help keep its temperature at the right level. During puberty, teenagers sweat more. As we sweat, we also get rid of our body’s waste products. If these are allowed to build up on the skin, bacteria can act upon them and this produces the unpleasant smell which we call body odour.

Personal Hygiene

There are many things we can do to help us cope with the changes that occur during puberty and to make us feel better about ourselves. The vast number of products available on the market can often help us look and feel more confident about ourselves and our body. If you feel confident you are more able to cope with some of the problems you may be tackling at this time.

Skin Care

Because of the changes in our skin, it’s important to wash thoroughly at least once every day to get rid of the excess sebum and dead skin. Some areas of the body need more attention than others because they may contain more sweat glands. It may also be a good idea to use deodorants which make us smell nicer or antiperspirants which work to reduce the amount of perspiration produced.

Hair Care

Many people say that they feel much better about themselves if their hair feels good. That’s often why people feel that visiting a hairdresser makes them feel special. Only recently has it become common for us to wash our hair more frequently to remove the coating of dirt and dust which can be attracted to the oil that hair produces. There are many products available to make our hair clean and to help with styling. Everyone knows it can make you feel miserable if you have a 'bad hair day'!


We use our hands more than any other part of our body. Chewed or dirty nails can spoil our appearance, so they should be kept clean and neat. Chewing your nails can also be a way to transfer germs to your mouth, so it’s important that we always think of hygiene too. If you chew your nails, the chemist sells various products that will help you to stop. It may also be a good idea to think about what makes you chew your nails and see if you can find the cause.

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