Dealing with acne? You’re not alone. It’s a common condition most often found in teenagers and younger adults, with approximately 80% of people between the ages of 11 and 30 likely to be affected by the spot-causing skin condition. Acne can vary from mild to severe and most commonly affects the skin on the face, back and/or chest.
Typically, mild acne takes the form of blackheads or whiteheads that occur when the hair follicle becomes blocked with excess oil (sebum) that’s produced by your skin. If the blocked follicle becomes infected by bacteria, it may take the form of pus-filled spots (pustules) or cysts – depending on how deep within the skin the infection has reached.
In more severe cases acne can sometimes feel hot, painful and tender to touch. Acne can also leave scarring on the skin, even after the condition has cleared up.
Though primarily due to hormonal changes during puberty, acne can be triggered at any age for a variety of reasons. These include genetics (acne can run in families), premenstrual flare-ups, pregnancy, certain medications (such as steroids), some cosmetic products and smoking. Approximately 1% of men and 5% of women experience acne over the age of 25.
For many people with acne, these symptoms can be embarrassing and may sap self-confidence – but there are a number of acne skin care tips you can try to prevent new spots and scarring. Here are a few of them:
- Cut down on frequent washing
Though it might be tempting to scrub your face, one of the best tips for clear skin is to minimise the amount you wash the affected area – otherwise, you may risk irritating the skin and making symptoms of acne worse. Wash no more than twice a day with a gentle soap or cleanser and lukewarm water – water that’s too hot or too cold can also exacerbate acne.
- Don’t pick or squeeze spots
One of the most important tips to prevent acne is to resist the temptation to ‘clean out’ blackheads or squeeze spots. This can actually aggravate them and lead to permanent scarring. Remember, acne isn’t caused by a lack of washing – the dark colour in blackheads is actually skin pigment rather than dirt.
- Avoid wearing lots of make-up
Make-up and other cosmetics can block the pores of your skin and irritate your acne. However, if make-up helps you feel more confident, opt for oil-free or water-based products. These are labelled as ‘non-comedogenic’ (meaning they shouldn’t cause blackheads or whiteheads) or non-acnegenic (shouldn’t cause acne). You should also completely remove your make-up before going to bed.
- Exercise regularly
While working out frequently doesn’t improve your acne, it can release feel-good chemicals called endorphins that may boost your mood and help with self-esteem. However, excessive sweating can aggravate acne, so be sure to shower as soon as possible after exercising.
- Take action as soon as possible
To avoid permanent scarring, tackle your acne at the first signs of it showing. Though the skin condition cannot be ‘cured’, there are many ways to treat it. As well as employing the clear skin tips listed above, medicines can be taken orally or applied directly to the skin. Several creams, lotions, gels and oral medications are available –
- Differin. This is a cream or gel preparation that, when applied directly to the skin, can reduce inflammation and help with acne symptoms such as blackheads, whiteheads, and/or pustules on the skin.
- Dalacin T. This contains an antibiotic called clindamycin. Dalacin T is available in the form of a topical solution that is applied directly to the skin.
- Duac Once Daily. Again, this treatment is applied directly to the skin and contains clindamycin, as well as benzoyl peroxide. While clindamycin kills bacteria, benzoyl peroxide works by clearing blockages from skin pores.
- Tetralysal (lymecline). Tetralysal belongs to a group of medicines called tetracycline antibiotics. It is taken orally. Tetralysal attacks the bacteria that are one of the main causes of acne.
To take the best course of action for your acne, take a convenient online consultation with the Pharmacy2U Online Doctor service. Our GPs can assess photographs of your condition and recommend treatments depending on its severity and information supplied from your consultation.