Acne is a common skin condition that affects most people at some point in their lives.
Around 80% of teenagers get some form of acne, however it can also continue into adult life.
It is most commonly caused by changes in hormone levels during puberty, which is why it’s common in teenagers.
There are other causes of acne including your genes, as according to the NHS acne can run in families
Also, women may experience it just before their periods or during pregnancy. It can be trigged by some cosmetic products, certain medications, or regularly wearing items that place pressure on your affected area of skin.
The most common places acne develops are the face, back and chest. It can range in severity and, if severe, can cause scarring.
Acne is caused when hair follicles become blocked. This is often a result of over-production of sebum, which the body produces to help stop the skin drying out.
The over-production of sebum can be caused by a number of things including:
- Raised levels of the hormone testosterone, usually during puberty.
- Family history. If your parents had acne it’s likely that you will too.
- Reactions to substances such as cosmetic products, medications or even smoking.
Did you know there are different types of spots?
- Blackheads are small black or yellow bumps that appear on the skin indicating blocked pores.
- Whiteheads are also small bumps, but firmer with white centres that do not empty when squeezed.
- Nodules are hard painful lumps that are under your skin whereas;
- Pustules are spots that contain pus usually on the surface of the skin.
If your skin is also red and swollen, this is called inflammatory ace and should be treated early to prevent any scarring.
For the majority of mild cases of acne, over-the-counter treatments can help reduce the symptoms. Speak to one of our pharmacists for advice on which treatment could help you.
Should it become more severe or worsen over time speak to your GP about prescribed medication that could help.
There are things you can do yourself to help reduce the symptoms and improve your skin’s appearance including:
Try not to pick, squeeze or scratch
Irritating spots can cause inflammation which can lead to scarring. Spots will go on their own without intervention but may leave redness on the skin for a few weeks.
Top Tip: Wear your hair in a pony tail. Keeping long hair off your face can help to prevent spots or acne appearing on your forehead
Try to avoid over-washing
Frequent washing can irritate the skin and can also cause overproduction of sebum which can make the skin worse. Avoid rubbing, scrubbing your skin and wash the area no more than twice a day. Remove excess oil on your skin by cleansing your skin with a mild product
Top Tip: Don’t forget to apply products to your jawline!
Try to avoid cosmetics that block your pores
A lot of cover-up and foundation makeup is oil based and not well suited to people with acne. Where possible try to use water-based products to avoid blocked pores. Covering up pimples with as few layers of cosmetics as possible helps pimples clear up.
If you feel uncomfortable without makeup, take it off once you get home to allow your skin to breath.
Top Tip: Don’t rub your skin when removing and makeup as it can cause irritation.
Try something new
It’s important to make sure the products you are using works for you and your skin. Different treatments or products work differently for different people, so don’t be disheartened if the products doesn’t work for you straight away. It usually takes a few weeks or months for results to show.
Top Tip: If you aren’t sure how your skin will react to a new product, do a patch test on a small area of the skin before applying it all over
Is there such a thing as an acne diet?
You might have heard that eating greasy or sugary foods can be the cause of acne, but no need to worry about the occasional treat. The International Journal of Dermatology advises that, despite what you may hear, chocolate isn’t the cause of spots. So, you may not have to cut any foods out, but what should you be eating?
In the same way as you should be nourishing your body, you need to look after your skin as well. And, one of the best ways to do that is to eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and veg. If you’re doing this, you shouldn’t have a problem getting all the vitamins you need to support your skin. The most important vitamins to make sure you’re eating for healthy skin are:
Vitamin A: Generally accepted as one of the main vitamins for skin health, vitamin A can be found in oily fish, eggs, milk and yoghurt.
Vitamin C: You may have heard that vitamin C is good to help maintain your body’s health, but did you know it’s though to help keep your skin firm and pliable? It’s found in a wide variety of fruit and veg, including peppers, kiwis, oranges and even broccoli.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is becoming more common in skincare products. It’s thought to help prevent scarring, including from acne. You can find it in nuts, seeds and olive oil