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ACNE: Let's talk about it!

Posted 14 April 2021 in Men's Health, Womens health

By Dr Kate Antrobus, GP and Medical Prescriber at Webmed Pharmacy

A face with acneWe 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. 

See our range of acne treatments Available by free online consultation 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

A chin with severe acneUnfortunately, 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 contraceptive pill.

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:

  • Scarring or darkening of your skin
  • Acne affecting your mental health
  • No response to several courses of treatment
  • Find out more

    Explore the range of acne treatments available from Webmed Pharmacy with a free online consultation and free next day delivery.

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