April 19, 2021

A year spent inside together due to the pandemic has opened many conversations for families! Some adolescent health talks are intimidating and parents are often unsure when to have these conversations. We recommend regularly having chats with your child about their medical, mental, and dental health so we can provide your family with any needed support. These talks can be as simple as discussing how we approach our health and how we stay healthy all year long. Families find some topics difficult to address, but they remain important to discuss.

Puberty: Boys usually start puberty between 9-14 years old and girls typically start puberty between 8-13 years old. Once the first signs of puberty such as body hair, body odor, and acne appear, girls’ menstrual cycles generally start within the next year. Menstrual cycles should become predictable within 2 years. Girls often start menstruating within a year of the age when a mother or older sister started. If menstrual cycles are not beginning or becoming regular, it is a good idea to consult a provider to see if this is of concern and consider treatment options. 

We encourage parents to start talking to their kids about puberty early and talk about it often! Talk to your child about these changes in an age-appropriate way. An 8-year-old does not need or want the same level of details as a 13-year-old. It is helpful to not make assumptions and ask your kids what they want to know. If you are not sure what they are asking or how much detail to share, ask them directly what it is they really want to know. 

Acne: Every teenager gets some acne and no teenager ever wants to talk about it. Over-the- counter products such as benzoyl peroxide and/or adapalene can work well if used consistently. It can take up to a month of regular use to determine if a product is successful. Encourage your child to keep trying. If acne is not improving or begins leaving scars despite best efforts, discuss treatment options with a healthcare provider.   

Vaccines: Immunizations are important for preventing illness and limiting a disease’s ability to spread. They also provide the best protection from multiple illnesses at the time of life where children are at greatest risk from those infections. Adolescent vaccines include shots to prevent meningitis, human papilloma virus (HPV), tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).

Sports Physicals: We recommend “well-child” visits yearly. These visits can include a sports physical, saving time and money on an additional visit. During these appointments, we are happy to discuss any of the topics from this article and to help with the conversations you are already having (or not having) with your teenagers.      

By Dr. Daniel Moorman