Acne is a very common skin condition that usually starts at puberty. It varies in severity from a few spots on the face, neck, back and chest to a more significant problem that may cause scarring and impact on self-confidence. Signs of acne include spots, oily skin and sometimes skin that’s inflamed, hot or painful to touch. Acne treatment includes a good skincare regime.
Acne most commonly develops on the:
There are 6 main types of spots:
- blackheads – small black or yellowish bumps that develop on the skin.
- whiteheads – have a similar appearance to blackheads, but may be firmer and will not empty when squeezed .
- papules – small red bumps that may feel painful when touched.
- pustules – similar to papules, but these have a white tip in the centre. This is caused by a build-up of pus.
- nodules – large hard lumps that build up beneath the surface of the skin and can be painful. These can remain on skin for a long time.
- cysts – this is the most severe type of spot caused by acne. They are large pus-filled lumps. These can cause permanent scarring.
These self-help techniques may be useful:
- Do not wash affected areas of skin more than twice a day. Frequent washing can irritate and dry the skin and make symptoms worse. Also ensure that you are using a gentle cleanser that does not dry the skin. A harsh cleanser that dries the skin can make skin more sensitive and acne worse.
- Wash the affected area with a gentle cleanser and lukewarm water. Very hot or cold water can make acne worse.
- Do not try to “clean out” blackheads or squeeze spots. This can make them worse and cause permanent scarring. For a deep clean – use a purifying mask.
- Avoid using heavy make-up and cosmetics. Use water-based products that are non-comedogenic. This means the product is less likely to block the pores in your skin.
- Always remove make-up before going to bed.
- Use a fragrance-free water-based gel to hydrate the skin.
- Regular exercise cannot improve your acne, but it can boost your mood and improve your self-esteem. However, it is important to shower as soon as you finish exercising as sweat can irritate your acne.
- Wash your hair regularly and try to avoid letting your hair fall across your face. Hair can irritate the skin.
Although acne cannot be cured, it can be controlled with treatment.
If you develop mild acne, a good skin care routine will help to resolve symptoms.
If your acne is severe, inflamed or your develop painful nodules or cysts you may need to see your doctor as it may be infected and antibiotics may be required. These are recommended by prescription only.
Treatments can take up to 3 months to work, so do not expect results overnight. Once they do start to work, the results are usually good.
Resist the temptation to pick or squeeze the spots, as this can lead to permanent scarring. Use a deep cleansing mask instead.
Why do I have acne?
Acne is most commonly linked to the changes in hormone levels during puberty, but can start at any age.
Certain hormones cause the grease-producing glands next to hair follicles in the skin to produce larger amounts of oil (abnormal sebum).
This abnormal sebum changes the activity of a usually harmless skin bacterium called P. acnes, which becomes more aggressive and causes inflammation and pus.
The hormones also thicken the inner lining of the hair follicle, causing blockage of the pores. Cleaning the skin does not help to remove this blockage.
Other possible causes
Acne is known to run in families. If both your mother and father had acne, it’s likely that you’ll also have acne.
Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during the menstrual cycle or pregnancy, can also lead to episodes of acne in women.
There’s no evidence that diet, poor hygiene or sexual activity play a role in acne.
Acne is very common in teenagers and younger adults. About 95% of people aged 11 to 30 are affected by acne to some extent.
Acne is most common in girls from the ages of 14 to 17, and in boys from the ages of 16 to 19.
Most people have acne on and off for several years before their symptoms start to improve as they get older.
Acne often disappears when a person is in their mid-20s.
In some cases, acne can continue into adult life. About 3% of adults have acne over the age of 35.
Products that Help Clear Acne