|Acne most commonly develops on the:
- Face – this affects almost everyone with acne
- Back – this affects more than half of people with acne
- Chest – this affects about 15% of people with acneThere are 6 main types of spot caused by acne:
- Types of spots
- blackheads – small black or yellowish bumps that develop on the skin; they’re not filled with dirt, but are black because the inner lining of the hair follicle produces pigmentation (colouring)
- whiteheads – have a similar appearance to blackheads, but may be firmer and won’t empty when squeezed
- papules – small red bumps that may feel tender or sore
- pustules – similar to papules, but have a white tip in the centre, caused by a build-up of pus
- nodules – large hard lumps that build up beneath the surface of the skin and can be painful
- cysts – the most severe type of spot caused by acne; they’re large pus-filled lumps that look similar to boils and carry the greatest risk of causing permanent scarring
These self-help techniques may be useful:
- Don’t wash affected areas of skin more than twice a day. Frequent washing can irritate the skin and make symptoms worse.
- Wash the affected area with a mild soap or cleanser and lukewarm water. Very hot or cold water can make acne worse.
- Don’t try to “clean out” blackheads or squeeze spots. This can make them worse and cause permanent scarring.
- Avoid using too much make-up and cosmetics. Use water-based products that are described as non-comedogenic (this means the product is less likely to block the pores in your skin).
- Completely remove make-up before going to bed.
- If dry skin is a problem, use a fragrance-free, water-based emollient.
- Regular exercise can’t improve your acne, but it can boost your mood and improve your self-esteem. Shower as soon as possible once you finish exercising, as sweat can irritate your acne.
- Wash your hair regularly and try to avoid letting your hair fall across your face.
A GP can diagnose acne by looking at your skin. This involves examining your face, chest or back for the different types of spot, such as blackheads or sore, red nodules.
How severe your acne is will determine where you should go for treatment and what treatment you should have.
The severity of acne is often categorised as:
- Mild – mostly whiteheads and blackheads, with a few papules and pustules
- Moderate – more widespread whiteheads and blackheads, with many papules and pustules
- Severe – lots of large, painful papules, pustules, nodules or cysts; you might also have some scarring
Treatments from your GP
See your GP if your acne is moderate or severe, or over-the-counter medicine hasn’t worked, as you probably need prescription medication.
Prescription medications that can be used to treat acne include:
- Topical retinoids
- Topical antibiotics
- Azelaic acid
- Antibiotic tablets
- In women, the combined oral contraceptive pill Despite being one of the most widespread skin conditions, acne is also one of the most poorly understood. There are many myths and misconceptions about it
- Acne myths
- “Acne is caused by a poor diet” – So far, research hasn’t found any foods that cause acne. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is recommended because it’s good for your heart and your health in general.
- “Acne is caused by having dirty skin and poor hygiene” – Most of the biological reactions that trigger acne occur beneath the skin, not on the surface, so the cleanliness of your skin has no effect on your acne. Washing your face more than twice a day could just aggravate your skin.
- “Squeezing blackheads, whiteheads and spots is the best way to get rid of acne” – This could actually make symptoms worse and may leave you with scarring.
- “Sexual activity can influence acne” – Having sex or masturbating won’t make acne any better or worse.
- “Sunbathing, sunbeds and sunlamps help improve the symptoms of acne” – There is no conclusive evidence that prolonged exposure to sunlight or using sunbeds or sunlamps can improve acne. Many medications used to treat acne can make your skin more sensitive to light, so exposure could cause painful damage to your skin, and also increase your risk of skin cancer.
- “Acne is infectious” – You can’t pass acne on to other people
- How to get help
- Alternatively, you can always contact your School Nurse. Telford and Wrekin – 07520 619051 .
- We do not usually inform your parents, teachers or anyone else if you text the School Nurse. We might inform someone if we were concerned about your safety, but we would usually speak to you first. Your messages are stored and can be seen by other healthcare staff who follow the same confidentiality rules. We aim to reply to you within one working day and you should get an immediate bounce-back to confirm we received your text. Texts will not be seen outside of normal working hours. If you need help before you hear back from us, contact a member of school staff or your doctor. Our text number does not receive voice calls or MMS picture messages. We support messaging from UK mobile numbers only (which does not include messages sent from landlines, international mobile numbers and some ‘number masking’ mobile apps). If you want to stop receiving messages from our School Nurses please text STOP to our number. Please respect your schools mobile phone policy. Messages are charged at your usual rate.
- The service is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm (except bank holidays). During these times we aim to respond to all messages within 24 hours and you will receive a response from a Specialist School Nurse. This may lead to an appointment with your School Nurse or health advice being given to you or signposting of where you can get the appropriate support.
- Shropshire – 07507 330346
- If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below.
- If you have severe acne, your GP can refer you to an expert in treating skin conditions (dermatologist).
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