Acne is a common and distressing skin condition affecting millions worldwide.
The severity and frequency of acne varies from person to person, and interestingly, many people experience improvement in their acne symptoms during the summer months.
In this article, we’ll explore the causes and symptoms of acne, discuss how to identify it and understand why it may get better in the summer. Additionally, we will provide ten top tips to help manage and prevent acne outbreaks.
Table of Contents:
- Understanding Acne: Causes and Types
- Consistent Skincare Routine for Acne Management
- Over-the-counter Acne Treatments
- Dermatological Treatments for Acne
Understanding Acne: Causes and Types
Acne is primarily caused by the overproduction of sebum, an oily substance that lubricates the skin. Many factors contribute to acne’s development, including hormonal fluctuations, genetics, certain medications, and lifestyle choices.
The most common symptoms of acne include the presence of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, cysts, and nodules, and they are typically found on the face, chest, back, and shoulders, and while we generally associate acne with adolescence, it can affect individuals of all ages. Hormonal changes during puberty often trigger acne outbreaks in teenagers, affecting approximately 85% of this age group.
However, acne can persist or show up during adulthood, particularly in women, due to hormonal fluctuations related to the menstrual cycle or pregnancy. Other factors like stress, certain medications, and genetics can also contribute to acne development.
Identifying acne is relatively straightforward, as it presents visible signs and symptoms on the skin. Acne lesions can vary in appearance and severity, but some common indicators include the following:
- Comedones:These are non-inflammatory lesions and can be open (blackheads) or closed (whiteheads).
- Papules:Small, red bumps that are often tender to touch.
- Pustules:Pus-filled, inflamed lesions with a white or yellowish centre.
- Nodules: Large, solid, and painful lesions that extend deeper into the skin.
- Cysts:Deep, painful, pus-filled lesions that can cause scarring.
The 4 Grades of Acne
- Grade I (mild)– consists mostly of comedonal with blackheads or whiteheads; Comedonal acne happens when your hair follicle has an oily plug of sebum and dead skin cells. Closed comedones, or whiteheads, form under a pore opening. Open comedones, or blackheads, form near the pore opening. Comedones are especially common during the teenage years but can happen at any age.
- Grade II (moderate)– increased number of papules/pustules; A papule is a raised area of skin tissue that’s less than 1 centimetre around. A papule can have distinct or indistinct borders.
- Grade III (severe)– predominantly inflammatory lesions with occasional nodules; An acne nodule looks like a small bump under your skin. It may be the same colour as your skin but may turn red and inflamed. It doesn’t have a “head” like a less severe pimple might. Nodular acne is also painful to the touch.
- Grade IV(very severe) – extensive inflammation, nodules, cysts, and potential scarring.
Don’t let acne make you miserable. Effective treatments are available and can make a big difference to acne symptoms. Consult a dermatologist at Harley Street Healthcare, London Dermatology Clinic, for a personalised diagnosis and affordable treatment plan.
Improvement of Acne in the Summer:
It’s true. Many people report a reduction in their acne symptoms during the summer months, and there are several reasons why this may be the case:
- Sunlight:Sun exposure can temporarily dry the skin, which may reduce oil production and improve acne symptoms.
- Vitamin D: Increased sun exposure leads to higher vitamin D levels, which has been associated with decreased acne severity.
- Sweating:Sweating during warmer months can help unclog pores and flush out impurities, reducing the occurrence of acne breakouts.
- Improved Diet: Summertime often encourages healthier eating habits, such as increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, which can positively impact skin health.
- Humidity:Higher humidity levels can prevent excessive drying of the skin, potentially balancing sebum production and reducing acne.
Consistent Skincare Routine for Acne Management
Using suitable products and maintaining a consistent skincare routine is crucial in managing and preventing acne outbreaks.
Choose gentle cleansers specifically designed for acne-prone skin and exfoliate regularly to remove dead skin cells.
Hydrate with non-comedogenic (non-comedogenic means that a product contains ingredients that won’t clog or block the pores on your skin), moisturise and protect against harmful UV rays with sunscreen.
Ten Top Tips for Managing Acne:
Here are ten tips to help manage and prevent acne outbreaks:
- Maintain a consistent skincare routine: Cleanse the skin gently twice a day and use non-comedogenic skin care products.
- Avoid excessive touching or picking at the face: This can introduce bacteria and aggravate acne.
- Keep hair away from the face and clean: Oils and hair products can clog pores and worsen acne.
- Protect your skin from the sun: Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to prevent sun damage and minimise acne scars.
- Avoid oily or greasy products: Opt for oil-free or water-based cosmetics and moisturisers.
- Practice stress management techniques: Stress can make acne worse, so try relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga.
- Be mindful of diet: Limit consumption of processed foods, sugar, and dairy, and incorporate a varied and balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help flush out toxins and keep the skin hydrated.
- Use over-the-counter acne treatments: Look for products containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to target acne-causing bacteria and unclog pores.
- Seek professional help: If acne persists or worsens despite self-care measures, consult a dermatologist for personalised treatment options.
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Over-the-counter Acne Treatments
For a better complexion, try over-the-counter treatments containing active ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or glycolic acid, but follow instructions carefully and consult a dermatologist if irritation occurs.
- Follow the instructions carefullyto ensure the best results.
- Consult a dermatologistif irritation occurs.
How Long Does It Takes for Over-the-Counter Treatments to Show Results?
Be patient – seeing noticeable improvements may take several weeks of consistent use.
Dermatological Treatment Options for Acne:
While self-care measures and over-the-counter products can help manage mild acne, those with moderate to severe acne or persistent breakouts may require professional treatment from a dermatologist.
Dermatologists specialise in treating skin conditions and can provide various effective options to manage acne. Here are some common dermatological treatments for acne:
- Topical Medications:Dermatologists often prescribe topical creams, gels, or lotions. These medications reduce inflammation, unclog pores, and kill acne-causing bacteria.
- Oral Medications:In certain cases, dermatologists may prescribe oral medications to control acne. Oral antibiotics are used to reduce inflammation and bacterial infection.
- Isotretinoin: Isotretinoin is a potent oral medication reserved for severe or resistant cases of acne. It is highly effective but has potential side effects, and strict monitoring is required during treatment.
- Chemical Peels: Dermatologists may perform chemical peels to exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin, oil, and debris. This helps unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and improve overall skin appearance. Chemical peels can be customised based on the individual’s specific needs.
- Extraction:In cases of stubborn or deep-seated acne lesions, dermatologists may perform a procedure called acne extraction. This involves gently removing the contents of the acne lesion using specialised tools to promote healing and prevent scarring.
- Laser and Light Therapies: Various laser and light-based therapies can target acne-causing bacteria, reduce inflammation, and promote skin rejuvenation. These treatments include blue light therapy, pulsed-dye laser, and photodynamic therapy. These are generally used in combination with other acne treatments for optimal results.
- Steroid Injections:For large, painful, or persistent acne cysts, dermatologists may inject corticosteroids directly into the lesion. This helps reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process.
- Comedone Extraction: Dermatologists may perform a specialised technique called comedone extraction to remove stubborn black and whiteheads. This procedure helps prevent the further development of inflammatory acne lesions.
It’s important to note that dermatological treatment for acne should be tailored to the individual’s specific needs and may involve a combination of therapies. Dermatologists consider factors such as acne severity, scarring, and the patient’s medical history before recommending a treatment plan. Regular follow-up visits are crucial to monitor progress and make necessary adjustments to the treatment regimen.
Acne is a common skin condition that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.
It is caused by various factors, including hormonal imbalances, genetics, and lifestyle choices.
Identifying acne is relatively straightforward, as it presents visible symptoms on the skin. Interestingly, many individuals experience an improvement in acne symptoms during summer due to increased sun exposure, sweating, and dietary changes. But remember that these improvements may be temporary, and effective long-term management strategies are necessary.
By following the ten top tips outlined in this article, individuals can take proactive measures to manage and prevent acne outbreaks, promoting healthier skin and improved self-confidence. If acne persists or becomes severe, seek the guidance of a dermatologist for professional evaluation and personalised treatment options.
Restore your self-confidence today. Click Here to discover more about our services and pricing, or call Harley Street Healthcare London Dermatology Clinic to discuss your skin concerns with one of our friendly team.