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How to tackle acne at home

Posted 26 May 2021 in Men's Health, Womens health

A girl with acne on her faceBy Holly Mason, founder of the Skin Investment Clinic, taken from her Ebook ‘Eliminating acne and acne scarring: proven secrets’

Whether you’re 15, 25 or 45, acne is unpleasant. When the pores of the skin become blocked with dead skin cells, grime, dirt, oils and excess sebum it causes pus-filled bumps to appear, which we call acne. These can appear on your face, neck, chest, back, shoulders or arms. Causes of acne include shifting hormones, incorrect skincare, bacteria, inflammation from intolerances or stress, cosmetics, diet and even the wearing of facemasks to help prevent Covid-19. Acne not only affects skin, it can also hugely affect your confidence, so tackling it is important for overall wellbeing too.

Treating acne is a long-term journey which requires patience. But the good news is there are many tricks to try at home or in a clinic which can work wonders on clearing up your skin before heading to the doctor.

Use a mild cleanser

The key word here is mild. It is crucial to wash your face twice a day with a mild, water soluble cleanser to prevent redness, help the skin heal and reduce sebum production. Stay away from bars of soap or aggressive cleansers as they dry out the skin and can block pores. Coarse scrubs can also irritate the skin and make the problem worse. And remember: you can’t scrub away spots and blackheads.

Exfoliate with salicylic acid

This removes dead skin cells and stimulates healthy cell rejuvenation, both on the surface of the skin and in the pores. Salicylic acid also helps with redness and inflammation and fights spot-causing bacteria.

Fight bacteria with benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide comes in solutions ranging from 2.5% to 10% concentration which you can find over the counter at a pharmacy or chemist. Begin with a lower concentration as a lotion containing 2.5% benzoyl peroxide will be less irritating to the skin than a solution of 5% or 10% and may be just as effective.  Alternatively, speak with your trusted aesthetic practitioner or dermatologist about chemical peels such as salicylic and azelaic acid which can produce incredible results.

Protect your skin from sun damage

This cannot be emphasised enough: the skin cannot heal spots if it is also fighting sun damage. A good sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 will help spots to heal more quickly and protect the skin from further damage. I recommend using a gel cream as it will not clog pores.

Use a sebum-absorbing clay face mask regularly

It’s important to soak up excess sebum to help prevent future breakouts. I recommend using a natural clay mask which does not irritate or dry the skin too much.Make sure your skincare products do not contain irritating substances such as alcohol. They are very common in sebum-absorbing products for spots but can cause cause a dry, flaky and red skin.

Watch your diet

Good nutrition is key for your skin. As every body is different there is no definitive list of foods that cause acne, but attention can be paid to foods that cause inflammation and so are arguably best avoided. Sugar, dairy and alcohol can trigger inflammation and acne so experimenting with reducing those could help. Always talk to your doctor before changing your diet. Drinking plenty of water helps keep skin clear and taking in good levels of vitamin A, C and E can also help, so get munching on carrots, mangoes and melon. Antioxidants found in foods such as blueberries, blackberries, goji berries and cherries are great for skin, as well as Omega 3 fatty acids which you can get from animal protein, fish and eggs. Zinc, found in dark chocolate and oysters is a powerful acne-fighting nutrient, and red peppers and watermelons also contain lycopene which reduces inflammation and stimulates cell renewal.

Change your facemask daily

Since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic acne cases on chins, cheeks and around mouths have become more frequent due to the use of facemasks. This ‘maskne’ is caused by extra heat, friction, moisture and pressure on the face from covering the skin for long periods. This creates the ideal environment for bacteria, yeast and mites to grow while the mask blocks oil glands and hair follicles creating the perfect setting for skin irritation and spots. To avoid ‘maskne’, stay away from heavy make-up (nobody is seeing your lower face anyway), drink a lot of water, try to wear a silk mask if possible and, crucially, wear a clean mask every single day. Although it may be tempting, try to avoid abrasive face scrubs and exfoliants and instead use products that support the skin’s natural protective barrier such as hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, urea and niacinamide.

Consider clinical treatment

If at-home treatments aren’t producing the results you want, seeing an experienced aesthetic practitioner is a good next step before visiting your GP. Clinical treatments for mild acne include microdermabrasion, vacuum suction and oxygen treatment. These can all help with eliminating blackheads, reducing scarring and improving the look of the skin. For moderate or severe acne, chemical peels can work wonders. Salycylic acid or combination peels can release hardened sebum, calm blemishes, lift dark areas of scarring and exfoliate dead skin cells for a clearer complexion. Photodynamic therapy is another effective method of clearing the pores of skin debris, grime, dirt, oils and excess sebum to leave cleaner, brighter skin.

Find out more

For more information, check out the ebook from Skin Investment Clinic, ‘Eliminating acne and acne scarring: proven secrets’

Click here to view our prescription acne treatments

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