June is Acne Awareness Month and is an opportunity to raise awareness of this common skin condition, affecting over 645 million people globally.
Acne is the 8th most prevalent disease in the world and this common inflammatory skin condition can affect 85% of teenagers and young adults.
Acne commonly starts around 12-14 years of age and peaks around 16-17 years in females and 17-19 years in males, and in some cases, may continue into adulthood.
There are different types of acne (non-inflammatory, inflammatory, others), so it is important to visit your GP to establish a diagnosis. Visiting a doctor will provide reassurance about how common acne actually is, an impartial opinion about how severe your symptoms are, and information on what kind of treatment may help you.
People frequently think that they will grow out of acne, but unfortunately for some people, it can continue for years and if left untreated may lead to scarring. Choice of treatment depends on the type of lesions and severity of acne. Treatment aims to reduce lesions and prevent scarring.
For more information on acne, visit our acne page
These are some important tips we think you need to know about acne:
There is little evidence that food causes acne, a healthy balanced diet is generally advised which includes fresh fruit and vegetables.
2: Talk to your GP
Even mild cases of acne can sometimes cause distress and unhappiness. If your acne cannot be controlled by over-the-counter treatments, go and speak with your GP.
3: Be patient!
Unfortunately, patience is necessary. Many acne treatments may take 8-12 weeks to produce a clinical improvement.
4: Use medication as directed
Use prescribed topical preparations and oral medications as directed, e.g. take them at the correct time of day, as often as prescribed, at the right dose and check whether antibiotics should be taken with or without food, as all of these factors can alter the effectiveness of medications.
5: Resist! Resist! Resist!
Do not poke, squeeze or pick spots, as this can cause scarring. Do not go pimple popping, as this damages your skin!
- Related: Acne information page
- Related: Acne and Rosacea: Busting the Myths
- Related: Ask a Dermatology Nurse
When you are on an acne treatment, avoid vigorous washing and scrubbing as this can irritate the skin. Wash the skin with a gentle skin cleanser twice daily, use lukewarm water and pat dry with a clean towel. Completely remove any make-up before going to bed.
7: Shave carefully
Boys/men who shave, and who have acne, should test both electric and safety razors to see which is more comfortable. Shave gently, slowly and in the direction of the hair growth. Shave only when necessary to reduce the incidence of nicking pimples.
8: Hair care
Shampoo your hair regularly, especially if you have oily hair. If you have long hair, pull your hair back to keep it out of your face.
9: Applying medication
If applying acne medication to the skin, apply a thin layer to the entire affected area (e.g. all of the face, with clean hands!) and not just to individual spots, as this will help to treat existing acne and prevent breakouts.
10: Choosing products
Choose cosmetics, toiletries and sunscreens that do not block pores – these products may be labelled “non-comedogenic” or “oil free”. In the first few weeks of using acne treatments such as topical retinoid and benzoyl peroxide, it may be difficult to apply foundation evenly because the skin may be red or scaly.
11: Avoid sunburn and suntan
Many of the medicines used to treat acne can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. A sunburn that reddens the skin, or suntan that darkens the skin may make the acne less visible and make the skin feel drier. However, these ‘perceived benefits’ are temporary, and there are known risks of excessive sun exposure, such as premature skin aging and the risk of developing skin cancer.