Acne is one of the most common skin conditions worldwide today. It doesn’t discriminate, affecting teenagers and adults, men and women alike, yet it’s a subject that is rarely discussed. When it is, the myths surrounding the subject make it hard to separate the facts from the fiction.
Our aim is to bust the acne myths and tell it how it is. At Harley Street Skin we have been treating people who suffer from acne – and its after-effects – for many years. We understand the huge impact that acne can have on your life; causing embarrassment, affecting self-esteem and personal relationships – in short, it really gets you down.
At the Harley Street Skin Clinic, through many years of trial and error, we’ve come up with effective treatments and skincare that really work to clear up acne and dramatically reduce acne scarring.
Our proven methods of combining skincare, ‘at home’ treatments and in some cases medication work to clear up skin quickly and effectively (and they won’t break the bank).
Through regular visits to our clinic or online Skype consultations our experts will guide you through every step of your tailor made skincare routine, offering advice and support as your skin goes through the different phases on the road to recovery.
What Causes Acne?
Genetics and hormones are the reason why some people get acne and others don’t and whilst it’s a condition that’s usually associated with teenagers, it’s common in adults too. Acne forms when too much oil is produced by the skin, blocking the pores, causing natural bacteria to multiply and resulting in spots, blackheads and whiteheads.
Teenage acne occurs as the hormones that bring on puberty also cause the sebaceous (or oil) glands of the skin to produce more sebum (or oil). Male hormones have the greatest effect on the oil glands and both males and females have them, although men have greater amounts.
Together the oil gland and hair shaft form a unit called a sebaceous follicle that gets blocked when rapidly-shed cells mix with an increased amount of oil due to hormonal changes.
Meanwhile, the sebaceous glands continue to produce sebum, causing the follicle to swell up with the excess oil. Added to this, the clogged hair follicle can become inflamed and irritated when a normal skin bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (or P Acnes), starts multiplying rapidly in the clogged hair follicle. The wall of the follicle can burst, resulting in spots, acne lesions and blackheads as the inflammation spreads to the surrounding skin.
I Wash My Face Several Times A Day, Why Do I Still Get Acne?
It’s a myth that acne is caused by dirty skin. Although washing can help to remove dead skin cells and excess oil from the skin’s surface, frequent washing can actually irritate the skin even more, making it look worse.
So many of our patients have tried every product on the market claiming to cure and prevent acne – including alcohol-based cleansers and harsh scrubs, which again just irritate the skin and make the problem worse. As acne is actually caused by a variety of biologic factors that are beyond the control of washing, it’s important that you stick to the cleansing routine that has been recommended for you by a skin specialist.
Does Stress Cause Acne?
The effects of stress can show up in the body in different ways, including changes in hormones that can lead to acne. Although quite often the stress is actually caused by the discomfort and embarrassment of being an acne sufferer – not the other way around! Once you have an effective acne treatment plan it’s unlikely that stress is going to have much impact.
I Never Had Acne As A Teenager. Why Am I Now Getting Acne As An Adult?
Adult acne is a condition that’s on the increase and statistics from the US show that it affects 25% of men and 50% of women at some point. Adult acne can occur at any age and includes severe forms that affect the body as well as the face (more common in males) and acne associated with the menstrual cycle in women.
Figures show that women who never suffered with acne as teenagers are more likely to suffer with adult acne than men.
Women really get a raw deal as hormonal acne can occur as they get older and experience hormonal changes that can be due to several factors including ovarian cysts, pregnancy or discontinuing birth control pills that have been keeping acne at bay.
Some cosmetics can be to blame too – “comedogenic” products can actually encourage acne – always use “non-comedogenic” products.
What Role Does Diet Play In Acne?
Another myth is that acne is caused by a poor diet. Unfortunately there’s no health food diet that will clear up your skin and while some people feel that their acne is aggravated by certain foods, particularly chocolate, fizzy drinks and fatty foods, there’s actually no scientific proof that what you eat affects your skin.
It’s best to avoid any foods that seem to aggravate your acne and, it’s obviously better all round for you to eat a balanced diet – but what you eat shouldn’t really have an effect if you’re getting the right treatment for your acne.
Does The Sun Help Acne?
Lots of acne sufferers like to spend time in the sun or on sunbeds as they feel that exposure to ultraviolet light improves acne. Again, there’s no evidence that this helps, plus you’re increasing the risk of skin cancer and premature aging of the skin so it’s not a method we recommend. A lot of the acne treatments we use increase the skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet light, making the risk of exposure all the worse – remember to always protect your skin with a good UVA/UVB sunscreen.
What Is The Best Way To Treat Acne?
Every case must be treated individually as no two people are the same and there are different factors to be taken into account before a course of treatment can be recommended. It’s always best to seek professional help in order to get your skin condition under control.
What Kind Of Cosmetics And Cleansers Can An Acne Patient Use?
Always use “non-comedogenic” cosmetics and toiletries that have been formulated so that they won’t cause or promote acne. Sometimes acne products can cause redness or make the skin become dry and flaky especially when you first start using them. If this happens it’s best to refer back to your specialist. We recommend Harley Street Skin mineral make-up to all our patients as the range is actually good for the skin, contains only natural ingredients, is non-comedogenic, anti-inflammatory and has anti-microbial properties.
Is It Harmful To Squeeze My Blemishes?
Yes! Squeezing actually forces infected material deeper into the skin, causing additional inflammation and the risk of scarring. Resist the urge to pick or squeeze spots as the chances are you’ll be making a bad situation worse.
Can Anything Be Done About Scarring Caused By Acne?
Yes! There are various professional methods to improve acne scarring depending on the individual case. Chemical peels, microdermabrasion or laser resurfacing can all improve the appearance of scarring. It is important to get the acne under control first before tackling the scarring to get the best results. Don’t despair as even the most severe cases of acne scarring can be dramatically improved with the right treatment.
How Long Before I Start Seeing A Visible Result From Using My Acne Medication?
Again, it’s different for each individual but in a lot of cases you can expect to see a visible improvement in a matter of weeks of beginning treatment. Most dermatologists would recommend the use of a medication or combination of medications daily for 4 to 8 weeks before they would change the treatment. It’s very important for patients to be aware of this time frame so they don’t become too discouraged and stop taking their medications or give up on their skincare regimen before it’s had a chance to work properly.
Would Using My Medication More Frequently Than Prescribed Speed Up The Clearing Of My Acne?
No! It’s important that you stick to your prescribed regimen in order to get good results. Using topical medications more often than prescribed may actually cause more irritation of the skin, redness and blocked follicles which can delay clearing time.
If oral medications are taken more frequently than prescribed, they won’t work any better, but there is a greater chance of side effects.
My Topical Treatment Seems To Work On The Spots I Treat, But I Keep Getting New Acne Blemishes. What Should I Do?
Generally patients are advised to apply topical acne medications to all acne-prone areas, not just individual spots. In order to prevent spots forming it’s important to treat the whole area, not just existing spots.
My Face Is Clear! Can I Stop Taking My Medication Now?
It’s important that you follow the instructions of your dermatologist and don’t stop taking any medication until they tell you to. If you stop taking your medication as soon as your skin clears up it’s likely that your acne will flare up again within a few weeks. If you are using multiple products, you may be advised to discontinue one medication at a time and judge results before discontinuing them all at once. If you’re following a Harley Street Skin regimen we will take you through each step to ensure we achieve the best possible results and maintain them.