Skin problems: Acne

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Acne is usually associated with teenagers, but it can affect adults too. It mostly affects the face but can also affect the back, neck and chest. It's sometimes thought that acne is caused by poor hygiene, but this isn't the case.

What causes acne:

Acne is caused when pores become blocked and bacteria gets trapped. The immune system reacts to this, making the skin red and sometimes the spots become filled with pus. It can be made worse by hormone changes (which is why teenagers get it and some women are prone to it just before their period), the progestogen-only pill, thick or greasy make-up, sweating or humid conditions and some prescribed drugs. Polycystic ovary syndrome can also make it worse.

Treatments for acne:

Day-to-day, don't wash your face more than twice a day and use mild soap and lukewarm water. Don't scrub hard. If you're using moisturiser, choose a water-based, fragrance-free one.

If your acne is bad, there are treatments that you can get on prescription. These include different creams, anti-biotic creams and antibiotic tablets. You can also buy something called Benzoyl peroxide in the pharmacy which is a cream that works well to reduce acne. Always read the instructions before you use any treatment, as it varies from product to product.

Treatments usually take 4 weeks for a noticeable improvement - but there's usually a good response by 6 weeks.

Your tips

Lizzie says:
This is the regime my daughter is following for acne, which I found on the internet.
1. Steam face twice a day for 20 minutes each time.
2. Exfoliate using a facial scrub, then rinse with clean water.
3. Then wash face with one of the transparent, amber-coloured soaps (as these won't clog the pores). Neutrogena was recommended but I have found Pears soap just as good and much cheaper.
4. Rinse with clean water.
In addition, eat a Red Delicious apple daily (there is apparently something in them which helps combat acne) and drink 6-8 glasses of water. Keep hands clean and try to keep them away from your face. Do this every day until the acne is under control (it took about 2 weeks for us), then you can reduce to washing your face once a day. But don't get complacent. My daughter only has to miss for a couple of days and her acne returns very quickly. Good luck!

Read on for info on psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis

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More on skin problems

- Our experts answer your skin problem questions
- A medical explanation of acne
- More skin disorders

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my face has black heads please help me deal with them

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