How to deal with acne

Some people are not bothered by spots, others feel very upset by having relatively few. It doesnít matter what other people think about your skin; what counts is how you perceive your skin. We are keen to help you get the best possible result from your treatment.

By the time you come to University, a lot of people expect to have grown out of acne. Unfortunately, acne can persist well into young adulthood and in some cases it does not even develop until the twenties, or even later. Quite apart from being unsightly, spots are uncomfortable, painful and can lead to scarring of your skin. Some people find that their self-image is affected by having acne and itís not just women who feel this; acne is more common in young men and merits just as much recognition. No-one really likes having acne, some people are simply more tolerant than others, so if your friends are suffering, show them this leaflet and encourage them to seek help. You can try over the counter treatments for acne before seeking help. These medications such as Oxy 10 contain a chemical called benzoyl peroxide which has a mild antibacterial effect and a peeling action. This can be very effective in mild acne particularly if you suffer mostly from blackheads. If these treatments have failed, or if you are getting spots rather than just blackheads it is time to think of other alternatives.

The mainstay of treatment for acne is antibiotic therapy. This can be given topically (i.e. lotion or cream onto the skin) or orally. Both versions are effective; if your acne covers a wide area (e.g. back) it can be difficult to apply the topical treatments and then oral treatment may be more appropriate. One thing is true for all treatments and should be seen as a golden rule DONíT GIVE UP THE TREATMENT TOO SOON! Any treatment is going to take at least 2 months to start working. It is important to get into a routine and to take the treatment regularly. Once the treatment has kicked in and is starting to work, you should expect to stay on medication for 9 months to a year. Please come back to get more tablets and if the effect wears off before the year is up, come back to discuss other options. Sometimes you may need to change antibiotics or add in a topical or an oral treatment depending on what you started with.

Oral antibiotics have been used for a very long time and are well proven in both effectiveness and safety. Side effects are uncommon and usually shortlived and mild, but you may notice a slight tummy upset for a while. Women might be more prone to vaginal thrush. If you are already taking the oral contraceptive pill when you start antibiotics, you must use extra precautions for the first 3 weeks of taking the antibiotics, after that your system will have adjusted. Remember though, if you stop the antibiotics for more than a week and restart you will need to use extra precautions again for three weeks.

Evidence now shows that antibiotic treatment is more effective when combined with a peeling agent such as benzoyl peroxide.

If antibiotics do not help, then there are other treatments available. Women may be able to take a certain kind of hormone treatment called Dianette which has the added advantage of being a contraceptive. Roaccutane is a very strong , but very effective treatment which can only be prescribed by hospital dermatologists. We would consider referral for this if necessary.

What else can help? Donít pick your spots; this spreads the inflammation deeper into your skin. Avoid greasy hair oils or styling gels.

Eat a good healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetable. Chips and chocolate don't cause acne although some people think that they aggravate their skin.

Stress probably can aggravate acne as it causes hormonal changes, so if you can, reduce the levels of stress in your life . Exercise reduces stress and benefits you in other ways. It will boost your self esteem which can be knocked by acne, so get down to the gym, or take up walking or cycling.

THE ACNE SUPPORT GROUP is a charitable association aimed at giving support and advice to acne and rosacea (an adult skin disease with similarities to acne) sufferers .

Further information

Acne Support Group

This article published on
13 May 2003

Next review date 8/1/2013


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