By Dr Kate Antrobus, GP and Medical Prescriber at Webmed Pharmacy
We are often led to believe that Acne is a condition that is supposed to affect hormonal teenagers, but in reality, there are so many struggling with this well
into adulthood. It is incredibly distressing, upsetting and frustrating for those affected, and can have a damaging impact on our self-esteem and mental health.
In a world where social media is so prominent, and we are seeing flawless photoshopped complexions here there and everywhere, and we are spending our lives on video calls to keep in contact with friends and colleagues, we have never been more aware of our own skin.
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As a GP, I deal with acne on a day-to-day basis with my patients, and so have lots of experience treating it as a clinician. However, I also have a personal interest as I too suffered with severe acne when I was 25, having had clear skin throughout my teenage years.
As a result, I have tried almost every treatment we provide at Webmed Pharmacy and therefore have even better insight from a patient perspective too.
My Top Tips for Acne Management
1 - Figure out what type of acne
Unfortunately, acne treatment is not one size
fits all and varies across the different types.
If you are suffering with mostly blackheads and whiteheads then this is
comedonal acne, and you are likely to benefit best from treating with topical
retinols or salicylic acid. If you have
inflamed and infected spots with lots of redness and even deep cystic lesions,
you will probably need to add in a topical or even oral antibiotic. If your acne seems be mostly on your cheeks
and jawline it may be hormonal, and you might benefit from starting on the oral
2 - Avoid 'popping spots'
This is easier said than done, we all know how
tempting a big juicy spot can be.
However. Messing around with the inflamed skin will only make it worse,
and can lead to scarring, so if you can, let your skin heal without picking or
popping. If you absolutely must and
cannot resist, make sure your hands are clean before touching your face, apply
a hot compress and pop the tip with a sterilised pin and push gently from the
sides to release the pus.
3 - Avoid touching your face
It is amazing how much we all do this without
thinking, multiple times an hour. It
goes without saying that our hands are full of germs and bacteria and touching
already inflamed skin with them is just going to make the situation worse. The same goes for anything that touches your
face regularly, such as your mobile phone or a desktop phone at work, make sure
to regularly clean these down.
4 - Wash your make up brushes regularly
In the same vein as the point above, make up
brushes and sponge, and facial flannels or towels can all make acne much worse.
Not only do they pick up oil and dirt off the skin, they can harbour incredible
amounts of bacteria. To protect your
skin, I would advise washing your brushes once a week. No need for expensive kits or solutions, luke
warm water and baby shampoo will work perfectly, just make sure you rinse
thoroughly and dry well before use.
5 - Use the right SPF
SPF is essential to protect your skin, we all
know this, and of course I suggest adding it into your daily skincare
regime. However, it is important that
you choose one that is not going to make your skin worse. Luckily there are hundreds of affordable
products out there which will do just this.
Oily and greasy sun creams can clog pores and make acne worse, so look
for either oil free or labelled ‘non-comedogenic’ so you can protect your face
safely from those harmful UVA and UVB rays.
6 - Don't exfoliate excessively
When we have inflamed skin, it can be very
tempting to exfoliate every day in an attempt to scrub the top layer of skin
cells away in the hope it helps the skin heal and removes the grime and
dirt. However, this can actually be more
harmful and helpful in most cases, and can cause more inflammation and even sometimes
increase the risk of scarring. I would
suggest exfoliating twice a week is enough for most people.
7 - Moisturise
People with acne often fear moisturiser,
thinking it is going to block pores further and exacerbate symptoms. It is however an important step in any skin
care regime, even more so in those with acne who may be using treatments which
reduce sebum production which can be very drying. Look for light or oil free moisturisers
instead, and use daily.
8 - Limit hair products
There are so many wonderful hair products
available these days, from hair masks and oils to scalp treatments, all
promising stronger and healthier hair growth.
Whilst these can be great in the right person, if you are prone to acne,
they are not for you. Treatments on the
scalp and hair will no doubt end up on the face, and will definitely make acne
worse. In the same thread if you have a
fringe or layers framing your face, make sure you keep it back with a clip or
headband as much as possible to avoid excess oil and dirt on the skin.
9 - Beware of expensive products
There are thousands of products out there
claiming to banish blemishes and it is easy to get sucked into the promise of
clear skin. There is no need to pay
excessive amounts for good skincare, often you can find what you need on the
supermarket shelves. Having a good
routine is key with a twice daily cleanse and light moisturise, additional
products can help depending on your skin type.
10 - Be patient
When treating acne, it takes several weeks to
see results. This can be frustrating and
upsetting, especially when we are so desperate to see positive changes. The skin takes time to heal, and we are not
going to see results overnight. When
trying new treatments, you need to give it on average 6-8 weeks to know whether
it has worked for you or not.
In today’s world
almost every case of acne is treatable. There are lots of products and
medicines available, and many knowledgeable clinicians out there to help.
Online treatments and
pharmacies are very useful, but if your acne is severe, you should be seeing a
GP or Dermatologist face to face.
If any of the below
are true I would suggest booking an appointment to see your GP:
or darkening of your skin
affecting your mental health
response to several courses of treatment
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