Getting your acne under control
What is acne?
Acne, also medically known as acne vulgaris, is one of the most common conditions that affect the skin. It is estimated to affect up to 85% of adults aged between 12 and 25 years old and is the result of the formation of small spots across the face, neck, chest and back, which can become inflamed and infected with bacteria. These areas of skin are more prone to developing acne due to the increased number of sebaceous glands. These are normal glands that produce the essential oils for keeping your skin healthy. When hormone production increases in puberty, the sebaceous glands produce more of the oils, which can contribute to the formation of acne.
Acne has been associated with psychological symptoms, including low self-esteem, as well as physical scarring in some cases. It is a common health problem regularly dealt with by GPs and specialist dermatologists and, although acne affects a lot of people, it can be difficult to fully treat. Often, this is because the most effective treatment, or a combination of therapies, varies between individuals. There are, however, a variety of ways that people who suffer from acne can help themselves to get their skin glowing again
Here are 5 great starting strategies for getting on top of your acne!
Strategies for keeping acne under control:
1. Avoid things that make it worse
Whilst there are many products available to help clear up and prevent acne cropping up, one of the most effective ways to combat acne is to avoid things that will make it worse. Observational studies have found that factors such as increased stress levels, having sensitive skin and using full-coverage foundations can contribute to developing acne. Whilst it is impossible to avoid all stress in life, managing stress effectively can go a long way to benefitting your overall health as well as your skin health. Avoiding any products that can particularly irritate sensitive skin and choosing lighter options to replace a full layer of foundation can also help.
2. Stop picking the spots!
Facial scarring can affect up to 20% of teenagers and is the major long-term complication of skin acne. Scarring can occur when particularly bad types of spots burst and cause damage to the surrounding skin; picking or bursting the spots yourself can make this worse! So, however tempting it is, avoid squeezing any spots that do come up to keep your skin clearer in the long term.
3. Try OTC remedies
There are wide ranges of skincare products that you can buy, as either cosmetic or over-the-counter (OTC) products that claim to clear acne. It can be difficult to know what will really work and what is actually worth trying. There are a few ingredients that can be found in certain skincare products that are known to help improve acne-prone skin:
- Benzoyl peroxide, a compound with antibacterial properties
- Salicylic acid, an anti-inflammatory agent
Trying a product containing either of these ingredients is a good start for treating acne at home. If you have sensitive skin, you should be cautious when using products that contain higher concentrations of benzoyl peroxide, as this can irritate sensitive skin and cause dermatitis (a rash caused by skin inflammation). It is also important to check all of the ingredients in any skin care products you buy for any added components that may cause skin irritation, allergy or aggravation of, particularly sensitive skin.
4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
General health goes a long way to helping your skin. Getting a good amount of high-quality sleep every night, regular exercise and a balanced diet can all help contribute to clear, acne-free skin. Some studies have also suggested that eating a lot of refined carbohydrates (sugary foods) can worsen acne, so these are best avoided to prevent flare-ups.
5. Speak to your doctor
If you have tried adjusting your lifestyle and OTC products and are still not getting relief from acne, then your GP or dermatology specialists can help guide and treat you. They may help you to identify any areas where you can make improvements or eliminate acne-triggers, and discuss if any additional treatments are required.
Antibiotic creams are sometimes used to help clear up any infection that can occur with acne, and oral antibiotics tablets can be used in severe cases. However, due to increasing resistance to these antibiotics, alternative treatments are sometimes used to avoid this. Retinoid compounds (a special form of vitamin A) can be found in certain prescription creams; isotretinoin is a similar substance that can be taken as a tablet. Both of these have been found to be highly effective for treating acne but can have some side effects and medical cautions, so tend to be reserved for more severe cases. Certain types of the oral contraceptive pill have also been shown to reduce acne in women, and it has been observed that acne can worsen for those women if they stop taking their oral contraceptive pill.
Acne is a common skin condition that affects each person individually and can have both physical and psychological consequences. There are some basic steps acne- sufferers can implement to help their skin improve:
- Keep yourself healthy; a healthy lifestyle makes for healthy skin!
- Avoid things that trigger your acne or make it worse
- Check skincare products for ingredients that will help and avoid ingredients that will irritate your skin
- However tempting it is, don’t pick the spots!
- Get to see your doctor for more help if you need it