What Is Acne And How Does It Work?

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Acne or acne vulgaris is a skin condition consisting of blackheads, whiteheads, and red spots. In more extreme cases deep boil-like lesions called nodules or cysts can form.

In milder cases of acne people only have a few red spots or pimples. Severe cases can involve hundreds of pimples that cover the face, neck, chest and back.

These more severe cases often involve large, solid, red lumps that are painful to touch, otherwise known as cysts.

Acne is most common amongst teenagers and tends to clear up following these formative years.

Some people are still prone to acne in their 20’s and some female women can get random outbreaks of acne, especially before their menstrual cycle.

What causes acne?

Acne is brought on when oil and dead skin cells clog your pores. If bacteria makes it’s way into your pores, the chances of swelling, redness and pus are increased.

As hormone levels are normally higher in teenagers, which leads to oilier skin, this explains why teenagers are more commonly affected by the condition.

Some studies have proven that diet can affect the severity of acne. Eating greasy and oily foods, or those with a high glycemic index are more likely to exacerbate the condition.

Excessive use of oil-based skin products and cosmetics is also likely to make things worse. Avoid these when possible, or at least look for products with noncomedogenic on the label.

How do I control my acne?

Here are just a few suggestions for keeping your acne at bay, or preventing it from appearing in the first place if you have relatively oily skin:

  • Keep your skin clean, avoid touching your face more than necessary.
  • Wash your face (and other affected areas) twice a day with mild soap or a specific acne wash.
  • Avoid oil-based skin products, or choose alternatives, such as water-based moisturizers and cosmetics.
  • Don’t scrub, scratch or pick your acne. This can make it worse and also increases the possibility of scarring.
  • Avoid foods with a high glycemic count, such as fast food, sweets and other sugary snacks.

What treatments are available?

Your first port of call should be an acne cream (most of which don’t require a prescription), especially if your acne is quite mild. Look for a cream that contains benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, and make sure to follow the instructions properly.

These non-prescription creams are not as potent as other methods – so make sure to stick with them for at least 3 months to get the desired effect.

If your acne persists after 3 months of using these treatments, the next best thing is to consult your doctor. They will likely prescribe you with stronger medication, such as antibiotics and other topical ointments.

In some cases, hormonal treatment can also be effect for women.


Acne is a very common condition and affects a lot of people, so remember you’re not the only one suffering. It is treatable and often goes away after a couple of years. Don’t let it affect your quality of life and make sure you keep doing things you enjoy, seeing friends and taking part in activities you enjoy. All of which will take your mind of it and might even speed your recovery.

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