- Common Ailments Service
Are you concerned that oily skin and painful spots on your face, chest and back may be acne? Read on for a guide to acne, as well as advice and support on your treatment options...
What is acne?
Acne is a common skin condition that affects most people at some point in their lives. It is normal to experience the odd pimple but acne is characterised by red, painful spots, oily skin and sometimes skin that’s hot or painful to touch.
There are 6 main types of spot caused by acne:
- Blackheads – small black or yellowish bumps that develop on the skin; they’re not filled with dirt, but are black because the inner lining of the hair follicle produces colour
- Whiteheads – have a similar appearance to blackheads, but may be firmer and will not empty when squeezed
- Papules – small red bumps that may feel tender or sore
- Pustules – similar to papules, but have a white tip in the centre, caused by a build-up of pus
- Nodules – large hard lumps that build up beneath the surface of the skin and can be painful
- Cysts – the most severe type of spot caused by acne; they’re large pus-filled lumps that look similar to boils and carry the greatest risk of causing permanent scarring
Who can be affected by acne?
Teenagers and young adults are most likely to experience acne – 80% of people between 11 and 30 are affected (however only 5% of women and 1% of men have acne over the age of 25).*
Changes in the skin that result in acne are often a result of hormones. For this reason, acne is most commonly associated with puberty, however it can also affect pregnant and menopausal women.
Where is acne found?
Acne is most commonly found on the:
- face – this affects almost everyone with acne
- back – this affects more than half of people with acne
- chest – this affects about 15% of people with acne
Why do I have acne?
Chronic acne is the result of biological reactions taking place beneath the surface of the skin. Acne can be caused when hormones cause the glands in your skin to produce larger amounts of sebum, an oily substance that is necessary to stop the skin drying out. When too much sebum is present, it mixes with dead skin cells and blocks the hair follicles in your skin. The hormones also thicken the inner lining of the hair follicle, causing blockage of the pores. Cleaning the skin does not help to remove this blockage.
Blocked follicles create blackheads and whiteheads, which if they become infected, can later develop into papules, pustules, nodules and cysts.
Should I seek medical advice?
Begin by following the self-care advice outlined by our pharmacists:
- Try to resist the temptation to pick at or squeeze the spots, as this can lead to permanent scarring.
- Do not wash affected areas of skin more than twice a day. Frequent washing can irritate the skin and make symptoms worse.
- Wash the affected area(s) with a mild soap or cleanser and lukewarm water. Water that is too hot or cold can worsen acne symptoms.
- Shower as soon as possible once you finish exercising as sweat can irritate your acne.
- Wash your hair regularly and try to avoid letting your hair fall across your face.
- Avoid using too much make-up and cosmetics. Use water-based products that are described as non-comedogenic. This means the product is less likely to block the pores in your skin.
- Completely remove make-up before going to bed.
If your condition persists, or you’d like to get a second opinion from one of our team, then please get in touch to resolve the condition.
If you’re worried about your symptoms, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our experienced pharmacists for advice and support.
Book a free telephone consultation with one of Mayberry Pharmacy’s experienced pharmacists.
If you have mild symptoms – i.e. blackheads, whiteheads, and only a few papules or pustules – you may want to begin by consulting a pharmacist. Most mild acne symptoms can be treated with: products that Mayberry Pharmacy offer.
For more severe symptoms you may need to book an appointment with your GP as moderate to severe acne will usually need to be examined by a doctor, and may require prescription treatment.