Healthy living

Puberty – things that change for everyone

Looking after yourself

Eat right and exercise

With all these monumental changes in your body, it is important to look after yourself well. Treat your body as caringly as you would treat the family pet! If you give your body the fuel it needs to grow, and if you give it regular exercise, you will be giving yourself the best chance to feel good about yourself.

Good food and exercise. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And it is.

What’s good?

  • A well-balanced diet. Include lots of fresh fruit and vegies and plenty of water.
  • Exercise! If you don’t enjoy sport, try hitting the dance floor (or the lounge room) with friends. Choose something active that you enjoy – that way you’ll keep doing it.

What's not?

  • Fatty foods, fried foods and sugary foods (pastries, biscuits, chips, lollies).
  • Stay away from crash diets. They don’t work.
  • Being a couch potato.

Acne and pimples

In puberty your body is a hormone-producing machine. The production of new hormones also affects your sebaceous (oil-producing) glands and your sweat glands.

Pimples are caused by over-activity of the sebaceous glands. These glands lie just under the skin. They produce sebum – the natural oil that keeps your skin supple. During puberty, your hormones make the sebaceous glands grow bigger and produce extra sebum. This sebum is often thicker and flows more slowly, so it tends to clog the pores, causing pimples. When pimples become very inflamed, this condition is called acne. Some teenagers are troubled by pimples and acne for several years. There is no single treatment to suit everybody.

How can I look after my skin?

Frequent, gentle washing with warm water and a mild soap or face wash can help. Dirt doesn’t cause acne, but washing can get rid of excess sebum. You may also find that certain foods make your pimples worse. Cut down on these. Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegies and drink plenty of water.

If your skin is really bothering you, then see your doctor.

Sweat

Once you have reached puberty, you may also find that you sweat more. Remember that sweating is a normal human function. The healthiest, fittest and most active  sports people commonly  lose buckets of sweat on the sports field!

By itself, sweat does not have much of a smell but bacteria which live on the skin can create a smell called body odour or BO.

To avoid body odour, wash your body at least once a day, especially the underarm area, using mild soap and warm water. Change and wash your clothes often, including your socks. It helps to wear loose fitting clothing, made from natural fibres. An underarm deodorant may be useful, too. Worrying about body odour is one of the many things that people get needlessly anxious about. If you bathe and wash your clothes regularly, it is very unlikely you will have a problem.

Where to get help

  • If you have any sort of problem you want to talk about confidentially with a trained counsellor, call Kids Help Line (24 hours) on 1800 551 800 (free from a land line only)
  • Visit The Hormone Factory (external site), a great site with lots of answers for 10 to 12 year olds, especially about puberty
  • Other good sites for teenagers include Get the facts (external site) and I stay safe (external site)
  • For general health information call healthdirect on 1800 022 222
  • For information about general sexual health and contraception:
  • For help with sexual abuse or assault, phone the Sexual Assault Resource Centre (24 hour emergency line) on 9340 1828 or 1800 199 888 for country callers (free from land line only)

Acknowledgements

Public Health


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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