Acne is said to affect 9.4% of people globally, which makes it the 8
most prevalent disease in the world.
With this in mind, why
is speaking about acne and our feelings surrounding it still considered taboo? And why is it not a
treated for what it is,
a serious, sometimes chronic, condition that can be
to the person who has it?
June is Acne Awareness Month, and I thought this would make a great opportunity to speak about what you can do about acne. Technically, all spots are a form of acne. However, when we say acne, we usually mean moderate to sev
ere acne, sore, inflamed whiteheads, nodules and cysts, rather than flat blackheads or small, colourless spots. For many, acne may be something that will be with them for a long time, years or even decades, but even if for some it cannot be comp
leted eradicated, it can be managed.
Acne is a medical skin condition, so requires medical intervention.
Acne is the result of hormones leading to higher sebum production in the skin. This excess sebum becomes trapped in the pore, and acts as a solvent that can hold dead skin cells together, forming a plug. With inflammatory acne
moderate to severe acne
, bacteria can cause
infection and thus
inflammation in the area, which is why some experience swelling, rednes
s and pain.
Sadly, and this is something I’ve learned through my years as a skin therapist and from the Nerd Network, many choose to suffer in silence as a result of failed acne treatments or embarrassment.
Congestion and acne
, in particular,
benefit from a multi-disciplinary approach, what I call the jigsaw puzzle. Skin therapists are but one piece of the puzzle, as are GPs, dermatologists, dietitians, pharmacists, exercise experts, nutritionists and even psychologists.
the bat, this
may sound intimidating
it’s not that everyone needs all of them – it's that you may need 2 or 3 pieces to click together to start to see results. For example, someone might have chronic stress and
cope with it by eating a lot of sugar, which in turn exacerbates their acne, and although they may use a prescribed retinol, they don’t cleanse their face properly. If this person works to manage their stress, speaks to a dietitian about what they’re ea
ting and then speaks to a skin therapist about the products they can use alongside their prescribed topical treatment, they’re going to see better results.
From a skin therapy perspective, the basic ingredients we recommend for acne are hyaluronic acid, vitamin A (in the form of retinyl palmitate or as a prescription retinoid), salicylic acid
and SPF. Hyaluronic acid is lightweight hydration that doesn’t sit on the skin, and hydration is important in acne-prone skin as oil and water simply are not the same thing. Vitamin A essentially normalises the skin and can reduce sebum production.
Antioxidants can help to prevent the skin from becoming inflamed, as further inflammation can aggravate acne.
Salicylic acid is the go-to over-the-counter acne ingredient, as it exfoliates and helps to dissolve the dead skin cells and sebum that cause spots to form.
SPF isn’t technically an ingredient, but it is integral as It protects general skin health and can help to prevent any acne-related pigmented scarring from worsening.
Your first step may be speaking to a pharmacist, if this is something you haven’t spoken to anyone about before, or a skin therapist. If your acne is painful, chronic and persistent, your GP should be
your first step. If you’ve spoken to a GP but never spoken to a skin therapist or a dietitian, this would be my recommendation, and a dermatological referral or private dermatology is another great option.