The first thing to know about acne is that you don’t have to put up with it. The second thing to know is that is it really very common – over 85% of people are affected to varying degrees at some point. Your doctor can be helpful in deciding the severity of the acne, the precipitating causes, and the best course of management.

There are various causes for the condition, but a few general principals of treatment hold true:

1. Consider intervention sooner rather than later – acne is easily managed, but post-acne scarring is very hard to improve and sometimes impossible to remove completely. Also, the psychological harm that can come from this disfiguring condition can be challenging to overcome.
2. Reduce irritants and occlusion to the skin surface – avoid oily products including oily make-ups, sunscreens and lotions.
3. Increase skin turnover/reduce congested pores – use a topical peel or vitamin A cream (on prescription only) to enhance this. Some patients also benefit from a strong oral form of vitamin A (available only on prescription from a dermatologist).
4. Antibacterials – either topical or oral antibacterials (again on prescription), light therapy or photo-dynamic therapy can also be a potent antimicrobial treatment.
5. Avoid inflammation which can lead to scarring – avoid rough scrubs or trauma to any lesions.
6. Consider hormonal influences – some women benefit from being on oral contraceptive medications to help regulate this.
7. A healthy diet can help – eat more vegetables and less sugary, processed foods.
8. Don’t forget an oil free sunscreen every day – acne is benign and easy to treat, however facial skin cancers can be lethal. There are many good brands of sunscreen that are suitable for those with oily or acne prone skin, ask your GP, and they will be able to steer you in the right direction.

Dr Cath Hester

These articles are not intended to replace a one-to-one relationship with a qualified health professional or as specific medical advice. They are intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from experience and research in the scientific literature. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon a partnership with a qualified health care professional.