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Acne Awareness Month: Your Guide To Acne and Acne Treatments

Home > Acne Awareness Month: Your Guide To Acne and Acne Treatments

Acne is an extremely prevalent skin condition that affects around 95% of people aged between 11 and 30. However, despite most of us experiencing acne at some point during our lives, few people know that June is attributed to acne awareness month.

On that note, it only seems fitting that we use acne awareness month as it was intended and discuss the big questions all acne sufferers want to know. Everyone seems to have an opinion on acne, but what do you need to know? From what is acne to what causes acne, read on to gain clarity about this common skin complaint and the recommended acne treatments. 

Acne Awareness Month 2022

Acne awareness month was introduced in a move to reduce the stigma that is associated with this skin condition. It allocates a month of the year where discussions about acne can be celebrated, helping to raise awareness for those who have acne-prone skin. 

June also offers a chance for medical professionals and dermatologists to put acne under the spotlight, offering conversations to develop into managing and treating this condition. By having a designated acne awareness month, people are encouraged to open up about their own struggles and even share their own experiences.

For acne awareness month 2022, we are keen to continue this conversation topic and bring forward possible treatment options for acne and methods for controlling this common skin complaint. 

Firstly, What Is Acne?

Unfortunately, there are many myths when it comes to conversations about acne. Such as, acne is a sign of dirty skin and acne sufferers should avoid wearing make-up. With all these misconceptions, we’re here to discuss what acne really is. 

Acne is a widespread skin complaint that affects people of all ages; however, acne does tend to be more prevalent in teenagers and young adults. The main characteristic of the condition is red spots or zits on the skin as a result of clogged up pores and hair follicles. But, what many people are unaware of is that there are different types of acne. 

The first distinction is inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne. Inflammatory acne is displayed by the distinct red, swollen spots. Due to the inflammation that results, it is often the case that these pores contain bacteria as well as dead skin cells and sebum. There are four types of inflammatory acne:

  • Papules – small red bumps that are often tender.
  • Pustules – also known as pimples, these red bumps develop to have a yellow tip containing pus.
  • Nodules – painful, red bumps under the skin, often irritating.
  • Cystic Acne – bumps full of pus beneath the skin’s surface.

Non-inflammatory forms of acne will not swell up into a raised bump or spot. Instead, this type of acne presents itself in two forms, whiteheads and blackheads. Whiteheads are pores clogged up and described as closed; whereas, blackheads are clogged pores that are open. Both are filled with a mixture of dead skin cells, bacteria and an oily substance from the body’s sebaceous glands known as sebum. 

While it is common to suffer acne on the face, it is also possible to experience both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne on the back and chest. However, regardless of where your acne occurs, all acne can lead to permanent scarring. In addition to the visible symptoms of acne, other physical symptoms include itching, pain and discomfort around the spots. Emotionally, acne can cause people to feel self-conscious. With severe cases, acne patients can also suffer from mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.

How Does Acne Differ From Severe Acne?

You may come across a dermatologist or medical professional referring to some cases of acne as severe acne. If you experience particularly painful breakouts of nodules and cysts, then it is likely your acne is severe. Often with severe acne cases, scarring is more prevalent. However, it has been known for cases of extreme whiteheads and blackheads to also be considered severe acne.

Seeking medical advice is always recommended if you are suffering from any type of acne that causes you physical or emotional discomfort.

The Causes Of Acne

There are many causes of acne, ranging from bacteria and hormones to genetics, lifestyle and even stress levels. Unlike the common myth that those with acne have dirty skin, instead, it may simply be a combination of your time of life and genes.

All bodies have sebaceous glands that produce natural oil; but, when these glands make too much our pores can become clogged, trapping dead skill cells and bacteria within our skin. Depending on whether the pore is trapped with bacteria, will determine whether the gland becomes infected and inflamed. In these cases, deeper and more painful cysts can develop. If a pore is simply clogged with dead skin cells and sebum (natural oils), whiteheads and blackheads will form. 

The most prevalent time to experience acne is during puberty; around 95% of teenagers experience an increase in spots due to adolescence. Similarly, women will often continue their struggle with acne into their adult years as their hormones continue to change, especially during pregnancy. 

However, when it comes to our environment and lifestyle choices, there are a few things we can do to rescue the risk of acne. Smoking and stress will increase the risk of acne, as will certain foods. If your diet is high in foods containing simple sugars, you may be more likely to experience an acne outbreak.

Treating Acne: The Top Acne Treatments

If you are battling with acne, there are four types of treatment routes you can explore with a qualified dermatologist.

Acne Topical Treatments

Some acne sufferers will be able to find some relief through the routine application of topical creams, gels and lotions. Often active ingredients are needed such as topical retinoids, topical antibiotics and azelaic acid. For example, in some cases, non-inflammatory acne can respond well to creams with salicylic acid. Whereas, inflammatory acne requires a substance that can reduce swelling, like benzoyl peroxide.

It is always recommended to discuss your options with a qualified dermatologist or medical professional first to ensure these topical treatments are suitable for your skin.

Antibiotics For Acne

Often prescribed in combination with a topical cream or lotion, antibiotics are used to enhance the effect on more severe cases of acne. When approved by a doctor, antibiotic tablets can be taken for approximately 3-6 months, depending on the individual case. An antibiotic approach, where appropriate, has been well tolerated by patients.

Hormonal Therapy For Acne

For women who experience acne flare-ups that are in sync with their periods or as a side effect of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hormonal therapy may be advised. One of these options is Spironolactone. This steroid drug promotes sodium excretion, reducing the hormonal effect on the sebaceous glands. Another effect of this medication is its ability to reduce hirsutism (unwanted hair) and hair loss from hormonal causes.

Isotretinoin Acne Treatment

A common treatment that is prescribed by dermatologists to treat severe acne and cystic acne is Isotretinoin. This medication is highly effective and is only offered when other treatments have proved unsuccessful. Under the expert guidance of a dermatology specialist, this can be a life-changing treatment option.

Managing Your Acne

This acne awareness month it’s time to gain control of your acne. For most acne sufferers, managing acne can be a trial and error process, working with your dermatologist and exploring your options. Everybody’s skin is different; therefore, you have to discover what is right for you. That being said, there are additional things you can do to accompany your medical treatment.

Preventing Acne Breakouts

To prevent an acne breakout there are things you can do to control environmental and lifestyle causes. For example, buying face wash that targets blocked pores and avoiding oily and perfumed moisturisers. Similarly, avoid wearing make-up for long periods of time. Try reducing how much you wear make-up and allow your pores to breathe by thoroughly removing all make-up.

When it comes to washing acne-prone skin, doing so as many times a day as possible will only irritate your skin further. Instead, get into the routine of washing your face twice a day and additionally after you sweat. Avoid intense exfoliation and scrubbing as this could pop a pimple and lead to scarring. 

The most important acne management tip to remember is do not pop your acne spots. Doing so will only make your condition worse.

Moreover, maintaining a balanced diet and staying hydrated also helps to improve your complexion. As does reducing your stress levels. Taking time to unwind and relax can help your skin to improve.

Should I Visit A Dermatologist For My Acne?

When it comes to treating your acne, getting a professional dermatologist’s advice can streamline your process. Instead of working your way through over-the-counter creams, a dermatologist’s intense knowledge of available acne treatments can help you quickly find a solution that works for you. 

By speaking to someone who understands, not only the physical implications of acne, but also the mental strain, specialist dermatology can help you get your confidence back. Not only that, through personal consultation, you can discover more about what causes your acne and if anything is triggering it to flare up. 

Acne Treatments Available At Midland Health

At Midland Health, we are a private healthcare provider offering specialist dermatology services. With no-waiting lists for appointments, you can receive a consultation from a professional dermatologist at short notice. There’s no need to put off treating and understanding your acne, you can arrange an appointment today. Call us on 0333 772 1999 or contact us by email at hello@midlandhealth.co.uk and we’ll get you booked in.

For more information and frequently asked questions about acne, click here. Let acne awareness month 2022 give you the confidence to reach out for help managing and treating your acne.