Healthy living

Puberty – looking after yourself

With all these changes in your body, it is important to look after yourself well.

If you give your body the fuel it needs to grow, and regular exercise, you will be giving yourself the best chance to feel good.

Eat right and exercise

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. Ride to school, take your dog for a walk, or get out on your skateboard. Choose something active that you enjoy – that way you’ll keep doing it.

What’s not?

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

Pimples and acne

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

Pimples are caused by over-activity of the oil-producing 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 oil-producing glands grow bigger and produce extra sebum. This sebum is often thick and flows slowly, so it tends to clog the pores, causing pimples.

When pimples become very inflamed, a more severe condition called acne can develop. Some teenagers are troubled by pimples and/or acne for several years and may need treatment.

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 such as sugary and fatty foods make your pimples worse. Cut down on these. Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegies and drink plenty of water. Try to avoid touching or squeezing pimples as this can make them worse or cause scars. If your skin is really bothering you, then you should see your doctor, as medical treatments are available to treat severe cases of acne.

Sweat

Once you reach puberty, you may also find that you sweat more. Remember that sweating is a normal human function. The healthiest of sportspeople lose buckets of sweat out 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 daily, especially the underarm area, using mild soap and warm water. Change and wash your clothes often. It helps to wear loose-fitting clothing, made from natural fibres. An underarm deodorant will be useful, too. 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.

Body image

As you get older you may become more aware of your body and the way you look. A usual and common feature of puberty is to worry about the way you look and compare yourself with those around you.

The world around us communicates all kinds of things about what the ‘perfect body’ is supposed to look like. Of course, there is no perfect body! But we are bombarded by images on TV, movies, advertisements and social media.

Look around at your family, friends and people you see on the street. You will see that in reality, people of all ages and sexes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Those images you see on social media and on TV have typically been selected, altered and sometimes touched up to create unrealistic, flawless looking people.

It can be a bit confusing to work out who you are and what you want to look like. Have fun finding your own personal style, appreciate qualities in yourself (and others) other than appearance, and celebrate the fact that we are all different and unique!

Mental wellbeing

As well as changes happening to your body on the outside, there are changes happening on the inside, too.

Hormones can make us feel euphoric and excited or a bit moody and emotional; everyone has their ups and downs (even adults – but you already know that!). It is as important to take care of your mental wellbeing as it is your physical health.

The good news is that, like physical changes, the potentially worrying aspects of mental health such as anxiety or depression can be dealt with and managed too. There are plenty of things you can do to help yourself, like eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, taking time to relax if you are stressed, and being socially active and involved in your community. Sometimes you might not be able to solve a worry on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask a trusted adult if you need help. The sooner you get some help, the sooner things can improve.

Find out more about mental health.

Where to get help


Last reviewed: 07-12-2018
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.