Acne is a very common skin condition that affects most people at some point in their lives.
It causes spots on the skin, often on the face, back and chest. These spots may be surface blackheads and whiteheads, or deeper, inflamed pustules which can lead to scarring.
The condition is estimated to affect around 80 % of people between the ages of 11 and 30 and is therefore a very common skin condition.
The condition usually resolves during the patient’s late teens or early twenties, however some patients can experience symptoms for a lot longer.
What causes the condition?
Acne can start at any age, however it is most often linked to hormonal changes during puberty. Excessive sebum production combines with dead skin cells, which blocks pores, creating an environment in which acne-causing bacteria can flourish. This causes inflammation.
Acne is known to run in families.
Hormonal changes, for example during the menstrual cycle or pregnancy, can also lead to acne in women.
Does diet affect acne?
There has been no direct link found between acne and chocolate, dairy products, shellfish or fatty foods.
Does stress make the condition worse?
Patients often report that their condition has been worsened by stress and it has been confirmed in studies that stress aggravates the problem.
Is acne infectious?
It is not thought to be infectious and cannot be passed to others. Acne-causing bacteria is naturally present on the skin.
What should I do if I have acne?
It is important to keep your skin as clean as possible, however this will not prevent new spots from developing. Wash your skin twice a day with a mild soap or cleanser and lukewarm water. This should remove excess sebum and dead skin cells. Do not scrub the skin too hard, as this may make the condition worse.
Try not to pick or squeeze the spots, as this could result in scarring which may be permanent.
Avoid perfumed cosmetics and always remove any make-up at night. Products that are oil-free and non-comedogenic may be used.
If you experience dry skin as a side effect of your acne treatment, you can use a fragrance-free, water-based moisturiser.
The treatment options for acne depend on the severity of the condition, from mild to severe.
Some over-the-counter treatments are available.
However, if your problem 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.
It is important that treatment is started early, as this should help to prevent scarring. However, please be patient, as it often takes a couple of months to notice a significant improvement.