Acne affects millions of people in the UK and typically occurs between the ages of 11 – 25. The face is the most likely area to be affected, meaning acne can have a negative impact on a person’s confidence and self-esteem. It is not just the acne that is the problem as it leaves behind unsightly scars even when it disappears.
What Causes Acne?
Acne generally develops when your hair follicles become blocked by your dead skin cells and the natural oils that are produced by your skin. These blocked hair follicles can cause spots to develop which can be made worse by the normal bacteria that live on your skin.
Why Do We Get Acne?
It is falsely believed that acne is primarily caused by poor hygiene and a poor diet. During puberty both men and women have higher levels of testosterone which causes your skin to produce more sebum, which is effectively a natural oil of your body. This in turn increases the likelihood that your hair follicles will become blocked, resulting in acne.
What Can I Do About Acne?
There are various treatment options that you can consider but there are also few simple things you can do for yourself before seeking medical advice. These steps are as follows:
Keep your skin clean: Keep the affected area clean by washing it twice daily. Make sure the soap is non-perfumed otherwise further irritation may occur.
Try treatments that contain Benzoyl peroxide: These can be bought without a prescription and an example of this is Clearasil. These have anti-bacterial agents that can help in reducing acne.
You are unlikely to see any improvement in your acne for at least 3-4 months so you have to be patient. If there is no improvement after this time then you will have to consider other treatment options.
You should contact your GP to see if you would be suitable for prescribed acne cream. Your GP may try you on one of the following acne creams:
Retinoids: These work by unblocking the pores in your skin.
Azelaic acid: This has an anti-bacterial effect.
Anti-biotic creams: These work by removing the acne causing bacteria on your skin.
Oral Anti Biotics: e.g. Tetracycline
If your acne is quite severe, your GP may consider giving you oral antibiotics. You may have to take them for up to 2 years depending on how well you respond to them. They are often used in conjunction with acne cream.
These are generally only used if you have severe acne that has not responded to any of the treatments mentioned above. Oral Retinoids greatly reduce the amount of natural oil (sebum) your skin produces, helping to reduce your acne.
Other Acne Treatments
If your acne is still persisting, you will have to consider private acne treatments. The following are acne treatments that may be of benefit to you. They may treat both the acne itself and also any scars which have developed: