Thursday, August 13, 2015
Acne is an extremely common condition that affects up to 90% of people going through puberty. A popular misconception is that the condition only affects teenagers, this however is not always the case. Despite most instances of acne disappearing in adulthood, half of all sufferers continue to battle with the condition into their twenties. Acne also varies in severity with some people finding themselves worse affected than others.
Acne occurs when the skin produces excess sebum, which then blocks the hair follicles along with dead skin cells. This results in whiteheads or blackheads on the skin, which can become infected, creating larger, more painful lumps known as pustules or cysts.
The physical aspects of acne are not the only symptoms. As the condition often affects obvious areas such as the face, the emotional factors can be extreme, often leading to low self-esteem and even depression.
Although acne is common, it can make sufferers feel very much alone in their battle to alleviate the symptoms. It is easy to assume that you need the strongest possible treatment when it makes you feel terrible, both physically and emotionally. It is therefore tempting to try any available treatment, including unknown medications bought online. Of course this should be avoided as it can be problematic and can often making acne symptoms worse, or even cause new issues.
Medicines should never be purchased from unknown and unregistered websites, as it is impossible to tell what ingredients are included. Some of these medicines may contain little or no active ingredient, so will essentially be useless and a waste of money.
Another risk of purchasing medications from unknown sources is that they are not regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to ensure that they are safe for use. This means that you cannot guarantee that they will not cause you harm, potentially damaging other areas of the body.
A prime example of this was demonstrated earlier this year when it was discovered that Roaccutane, a very strong prescription-only medication used for extremely severe cases of acne, was available online for purchase without a prescription.
This was a great cause for concern, as there are strong links to the medication and instances of depression, even suicide. Doctors will also not prescribe it to expectant mothers as it can cause birth defects to the unborn child.
Obviously, purchasing this medication online without supervision is extremely dangerous. It is safer to talk to a doctor, who will consider your full medical background and will be able to tell you if the drug is a suitable treatment. Even the NHS admits on their website that Roaccutane is not suitable for every patient. Everyone reacts differently to medications, so it is extremely important that drugs, and their effects, are monitored by a doctor.
Discussing the condition with your doctor is the best course of action, particularly if it is causing you concern or distress. They may prescribe one of a number of medications to help alleviate symptoms:
Benzoyl peroxide – an antiseptic topical treatment
Tretinoin or adapalene – topical retinoids that exfoliate the skin preventing dead skin cells from blocking hair follicles
Topical antibiotics – a topical treatment that kills bacteria on the skin’s surface to prevent infection
Antibiotics - usually in tablet form
The combined oral contraceptive pill – to alleviate acne caused by hormonal conditions
Treatment for acne is not limited to prescription-only medications. There are also other things that you can do to help ease symptoms at the same time as using prescribed treatments:
Wash in lukewarm water, twice a day only – water that is too hot or cold can aggravate your skin, as can over-washing.
Use mild cleansers or soap.
Some treatments can dry the skin so if you need to use a moisturiser, use a fragrance-free emollient.
Make sure any cosmetics and makeup you use are non-comedogenic (less likely to block pores).
Change bedding and towels regularly.
There are many arguments about links to diet and acne, and it is generally agreed that although it may be a contributing factor, it is not necessarily a cause of acne.
Studies have shown that the link between food and acne is common in the diet of the Western world, due to high levels of sugar, refined carbohydrates and saturated fats. Cutting down on these types of foods, and eating more fruit, vegetables and fish is likely to help reduce the symptoms.
These studies have therefore shown that the best diet to help ease acne symptoms is, of course, a healthy one.
We understand that you may feel concerned about your skin condition. If you are struggling with acne, we can be of great help. We provide a wide range of both prescription and non-prescription treatments, to help control the production of spots and reduce the appearance of scars.