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Top tips for overcoming acne

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Acne can be an unpleasant and often embarrassing skin problem, which affects eight in ten teenagers.

It occurs when glands in the hair follicle start producing too much sebum (oil) causing the skin’s pores to become blocked.

For most people acne will clear up by the age of 25, although about 15% of women and 5% of men continue to get acne as adults.

Fortunately, whatever your age there are things you can do to help prevent acne from occurring or worsening.

Common types of acne

Acne mainly affects the face and neck, but can occur on the back, buttocks and chest. You may find that spots vary in the way they look because there are different types of acne. 

The four most common types are: 

Whiteheads

Round, white blemishes that form when hair follicles become blocked by a thick plug of sebum and dead skin cells. 

Blackheads

Round, dark blemishes that form when the sebum and skin cell plug reaches the skin’s surface and turns black on exposure to air. 

Pimples 

Red, swollen bumps that form when the plugged follicle wall ruptures near the skin’s surface. Bacteria on the skin’s surface infiltrate the skin and cause redness (inflammation). 

Cysts

Red, pus-filled pimples. They form when the walls of a plugged follicle rupture deep within the skin, causing larger and deeper areas of inflamed skin that indicate a more extensive infection. 

What makes acne worse? 

Acne can be the result of a number of factors outside of your control including genetics and hormone levels. It can be useful to know that acne flares can be provoked by: 

  • Having a diet high in dairy, meat protein and sugars 
  • Humidity 
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome 
  • Skin care and make up products that are oil based 
  • Some medications including oral corticosteroids and some oral contraceptive pills 
  • Stress 
  • Working in a job that makes you sweaty and hot, or involves oils or grease 

Skin care tips for battling break-outs

Following these skin care tips may help you prevent acne and avoid unpleasant scarring.

You may find it helpful to: 

  • Avoid picking and squeezing acne spots 
  • Avoid excessive skin scrubbing 
  • Get small amounts of sun on your face which may help dry out pimples, but be careful to avoid sunburn
  • Eat a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables 
  • Gently clean the skin twice daily with a soap-free wash (regular soap can be too drying) 
  • Minimise the use of oils and cosmetics on the affected skin 
  • Stop smoking 
  • Use natural products such as topical zinc and tea tree oil 

Acne treatment at Unichem

Your Unichem Pharmacist has a number of acne treatments available and can work with you to find the best product solution for your symptoms. They can also give you tips on how best to wash your face to remove bacteria and dead skin cells.

Treatment is usually effective but it can take time for results to become visible. That’s because acne treatments don’t cure existing pimples, instead they work to prevent new ones forming. 

If acne is severe, your Pharmacist may recommend you see your doctor for an oral medication prescription.