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ACNE – How to be spotless for Christmas!

Posted by Doctaly on

That spot always seems to come out when you least want it to! Christmas party nights on the horizon and no doubt a few of us will have to deal with the unwanted and uninvited guest(s). There is however a difference between battling one and battling many! Acne is a topic that many of you have been asking about, and so we felt that some information would be useful and helpful.

Acne is a very common skin condition, and most of us will have experienced it to varying degrees. Most people think of acne as a condition, which primarily affects teenagers,  however, getting rid of acne is not that easy and can last well into your late twenties or even thirties. For some, the scars left by acne can be a painful life-long reminder and an embarrassing issue, affecting relationships, confidence and in some cases, the mental health of sufferers.

Why does it happen in the first place? At puberty our body starts to produce hormones called androgens. These cause the enlargement and overstimulation of the sebaceous glands. The extra sebum (a natural oil that lubricates your hair and skin ) that the sebaceous glands produce mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria on the skin’s surface. This leads to the formation of blocked pores, where bacteria multiplies and causes skin inflammation, leading to the spots associated with acne.

What are the different types of acne?

Mild Acne: Opened and closed blackheads, which are small and cover small areas. There are no inflammatory lesions and no marking.

Acne Comedonica (Moderate Acne): Blackheads are mainly open. Spots and some pimples. Spots are small and granular. The lesions may be inflammatory. No markings.

Acne Papulopustulosa (Severe acne): Spots and pimples. The pimples are yellowish and swollen. This aspect is accentuated by breaking the wall of the follicle. The nodules are small, full of knots visible by contact. Scars may appear.

Acne Congobata (Serious Acne): Blackheads and some spots, lots of pimples, nodules, cysts and abscesses. It is a serious but not very common form of acne.

Who suffers from acne?

Acne affects young adults the most yet can also be a problem for older people (adult acne). It usually starts in puberty, between ages 12 and 14; more than 90 per cent of teenagers have acne. Approximately  one in twenty women and one in a hundred men aged 25 to 40 continue to be affected by acne, or develop it at this age (late-onset acne). Did you know? Newborn babies can get acne in the first few weeks or months of life. Women are generally affected at a younger age, the peak severity being between ages 17 and 18, while men peak between 19 and 20 years old. Men tend to be worst affected by this skin problem because they produce more testosterone.

What can you do about acne?

Over the counter remedies should be your first port of call, particularly when acne is mild to moderate. These will contain active agents, and the topical treatments should be applied to the entire affected area. These ingredients can cause skin irritation, so you may have to build up the routine slowly initially to eventually reach a daily cleansing regime. However, if these are not working for you, it is probably time to consult your GP. Bear in mind that it can take time to get your acne under control, so don’t panic if your chosen treatment doesn’t deliver a complete cure overnight.

If the topical treatments have not worked your doctor may recommend a course of antibiotic tablets, and these will usually be taken for a minimum of two to three months, and possibly longer, up to six months is not uncommon. A recent study uncovered that Doctors ‘warned that oral antibiotics, which are routinely prescribed for acne, are being used for durations that exceed recommendations, despite concerns about antibiotic resistance.’ (https://www.hdft.nhs.uk/news/acnestudy/).

Another form of treatment has been the oral contraceptive pills for female patients with acne, which acts by blocking a hormone which in turns reduces the amount of oil in the skin. Here again, it can take time to take effect and there are some additional risks to consider too.

Finally, Isotretinoin, is a powerful treatment against acne, yet it is also associated with some serious side effects and can only be prescribed by a consultant dermatologist. There are strict rules set by the MHRA on the protocol to prescribe this drug, given its potential harm to unborn children.

The do’s and don’t with acne:

  • Don’t pick or squeeze – this will make it worse and potentially damage your skin longer term.
  • If your skin feels and looks irritated, stop the treatment for a few days and then resume gradually.
  • Use oil free or water based make up, non-comedogenic make up would be best.
  • Cleanse your skin, stick to a routine, remove your make up every night, and be gentle when washing your skin.

If you are concerned about your acne and would like to discuss treatment options further with a doctor, you can book a private GP appointment today.

Posted in: Dermatology