Image of acne on a patient's back

Living with and treating acne

Acne is estimated to affect around 80 % of people between the ages of 11 and 30 and as such is a very common skin condition.

Spots develop on the skin, most often on the face, back and chest. These spots may be surface blackheads and whiteheads, or deeper, inflamed pustules which can sometimes cause scarring. Acne can be mild or severe.

It is most common in girls aged 14-17 and in boys aged 16-19. Some patients may experience symptoms for a longer period of time.

What causes acne?

Acne is often linked to hormonal changes during puberty, which is why most patients experience these symptoms during their teenage years. Excessive sebum production combines with dead skin cells, which blocks pores and creates an environment in which acne-causing bacteria flourish. This causes inflammation and the appearance of spots.

It is known to run in families.

Hormonal changes, for example during the menstrual cycle or pregnancy, can also lead to acne in women.

Patients often report that their acne has been worsened by stress.

Is it infectious?

Acne is not infectious and cannot be passed to others. Acne-causing bacteria is naturally present on the skin.

What to do if I have acne

It is important to keep your skin as clean as possible, however this can not prevent new spots from developing. Washing your skin twice a day with a mild soap or cleanser and lukewarm water is normal for most people. This should remove excess sebum and dead skin cells. Excessive washing could exacerbate the condition.

Try to avoid picking and squeezing the spots, as this could result in permanent scarring.

Avoid perfumed cosmetics and always ensure that you remove your make-up before going to bed. Oil-free and non-comedogenic products may be used.

The treatment options depend on the severity of the condition. Some over-the-counter treatments are available such as Panoxyl.

However, if your acne is severe or appears on your chest and back, it may need to be treated with antibiotics or a stronger cream. These are only available on prescription, and can be purchased through our online doctor service. The aim of treatment is to clear the spots as much as possible and prevent scarring. It is important that treatment is started as early as possible, as this may help to prevent scarring. However, please be patient, as it often can take a couple of months to notice a significant improvement.

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