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Stranger Things: Weird Body Stuff

Hair in unusual places, zits where you least expect them, sudden body odor: It may feel like your world is turning upside down, but these changes are totally normal. (Phew!)

STRANGE THING: Breakouts

You went to bed with clear skin, but woke up on picture day with a giant zit on your nose. What gives? “Breakouts can appear overnight,” says Dr. Laurel Naversen Geraghty, a dermatologist in Medford, Oregon. The culprit can be as simple as forgetting to wash up before going to sleep. But an acne flare-up is often beyond your control, she adds: “Overnight breakouts can happen because of stress, hormonal fluctuations, and sometimes for no good reason other than you’re young.” Eighty-five percent of teens get zits.

IT ONLY GETS STRANGER: Bacne

Pimples can appear anywhere you have oil glands, including your back, chest, and shoulders. “More oil means more blocked pores and inflammation—which translates to acne,” says dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner, with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. 

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT:

Beat breakouts with drugstore cleansers and treatments containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Start with a pea-sized amount, says Naversen Geraghty, to see what your skin will tolerate (these products can be drying). If nothing helps, see a dermatologist for next-level options. For bacne, try an acne wash, but let it sit on your back a minute before washing it off, says Zeichner. P.S. If you play football, hockey, or lacrosse, keep pads clean and dry between practices so they don’t transfer bacteria to your skin.

STRANGE THING: Sudden Anger

Your sister takes your headphones without asking and you’re super angry! Two minutes later, meh—you’re over it. The major hormonal changes you’re going through right now bring on emotional changes too. “You experience moods more intensely and the moods may shift rapidly,” says Barbara Greenberg, an adolescent psychologist in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

IT ONLY GETS STRANGER: 

Spontaneous laughter You’re suddenly cracking up at the weirdest times, like during a math test. Why?

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT:

Feeling intense? “Take time-outs—to relax and decompress,” advises Greenberg. It’s also super helpful to get a good night’s sleep and avoid skipping meals. Healthy food keeps your blood sugar steady, which makes you less likely to bounce from high to low states. Final tip: Keep a journal, whether it’s on paper or in a Google Doc, recommends Greenberg, adding, “Journals are a great place to sort out your feelings.”

STRANGE THING: Sleeping Until Forever 

You’re up and out early every school day but on weekends you snooze till noon. You’re not lazy—you’re just growing. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night, but only 15 percent are getting 8½ hours a school night. Your body tries to catch up on weekends! 

IT ONLY GETS STRANGER:

You can’t get to sleep on Sunday night! You know the drill: After sleeping in, you’re over-rested and wired when you should be dozing off to recharge for the busy week ahead. 

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT:

Power down devices an hour before bed. Hungry? Reach for a light, carb-rich snack that’s easy to digest (think a banana or waffle) instead of heavy or greasy stuff (like pizza). A warm bath or shower has also shown to prep our bods for a good night’s rest. 

 

STRANGE THING: Underarm Odor

Um, what’s that smell? Your oil and sweat glands are maturing and becoming more active now—and that means body odor, explains Dr. Joshua Zeichner. What you’re actually smelling is your own sweat interacting with the normal bacteria on your skin.

IT ONLY GETS STRANGER:

Stinky feet Our feet have 500,000 sweat glands and can produce more than a pint of sweat a day. “Stinky feet are commonly caused by overgrowth of fungus,” says Zeichner.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT:

Try a deodorant made for teens, which has fewer chemicals. If that doesn’t do it, use a standard antiperspirant. For feet, if you notice scaling skin or white discoloration, you may have athlete’s foot. Try over-the-counter clotrimazole cream twice a day.

STRANGE THING: Body Hair

Even when you’re expecting body hair, it can freak you out when it looks nothing like what’s growing on your head. “People are often surprised at how different hair can be, depending on where it grows on the body,” says Naversen Geraghty. The hair on our heads can be light or dark, straight or curly, and thick or fine, while hair under the arms and near the groin is often coarse and dark. Leg- and upper-lip hair may be finer—and sometimes has a few colors mixed in.

IT ONLY GETS STRANGER:

Hair in wacky places Ever notice a hair or three in a weird place like your toe? “It is 100 percent normal and expected for body hair to grow just about everywhere—except for maybe on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet,” says Naversen Geraghty. You may see strays on the face, chest (even girls may have a few), or fingers.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT:

If the random hairs bug you, pluck them with tweezers. But for taking off underarm hair or facial fuzz, shaving is the best option. Have a parent help out the first few times until you’ve got it down. Tip: An electric razor can help lower the risk of nicks and irritation.

Huh? Yep, everyone’s born this way!

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