Acne treatment: 10 tips to combat breakouts
Model Kendall Jenner inspired acne sufferers the world over when she appeared on the red carpet at the Golden Globes in January. Kendall’s acne was clearly visible beneath her make-up, with the star later taking to Twitter to tell fans not to let the skin ailment stop you. Acne is a common skin condition, characterised by spots, oily and sometimes painful skin. There are many different treatments available and their suitability depends on the severity of the acne. Here, Consultant Dermatologist Dr. Sharon Wong gives her tips for best treating the condition.
1. Off-the-shelf products
For mild acne, Dr. Wong recommends: “Face washes and leave-on creams that contain Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic Acid can be very effective. These are key anti-acne ingredients in products which are available just over the counter. Using those things stand alone would probably be effective for the milder form of acne.”
2. Severe acne advice
For more severe forms of acne, you may need prescription medication. Dr Wong explains: “This can range from antibiotics which you apply as a cream or a gel, or your doctor could prescribe antibiotic tablets, for courses of three to six months. “There are also stronger tablets, which people can take and would be done under the supervision of a dermatologist.”
3. Moisturisers are key
“Make sure that you’re using moisturisers that aren’t too heavy,” suggest Dr. Wong. Look out for key words ‘oil-free’ or ‘non-comedogenic’ and avoid products that contain petroleum jelly or mineral oil. Moisturising should be a daily routine, once or twice a day. If you’ve got the right product, moisturisers won’t add grease to your skin; they are there to maintain the water level, which is different to grease.”
4. No spot squeezing!
Dr. Wong advises people against squeezing and picking their spots. “All that does is deepens the level of trauma to the skin,” she reveals. “Any pigmentation or scarring could be made worse by picking or squeezing spots. You should be using the right ingredients in your daily skincare routine and using the right prescription strength medication if you require it.”
5. Blackhead masks
We’ve all seen those black-head removing masks online – but do they actually work? Dr. Wong says they are helpful, but only on a surface level. She explains: “They are fine on a superficial level, removing dead skin cells that drop into the superficial parts of the openings of your pores.”
6. Try a chemical peel
Have you ever considered a chemical peel to help combat acne? Dr. Wong tells us: “In terms of a much deeper cleanse, you can get a more thorough cleansing action through certain chemical peels, such as glycolic or salicylic acid peels. These treatments can be done by a dermatologist.”
7. Don’t over-exfoliate
“Generally speaking, if you’re very acne prone, you have to be quite mindful of exfoliation,” advises Dr. Wong. “Many anti-acne products contain acid, making your skin more sensitive as you’ve probably stripped away the natural protector factors on your skin. You can damage your skin barrier by being too aggressive with exfoliation. Most people think more exfoliating is better but the scrubs can be quite abrasive.” If you do want to exfoliate, she recommends weekly exfoliation.
8. Buy non-comedogenic make-up
The make-up we use can affect acne, so it’s wise to invest in a more breathable brand. Dr. Wong says: “If possible, avoid the heavier foundations. The mineral make-up lines are much lighter and allow the skin to breathe a lot more. Make-up brand Vichy has a concealer stick which is non-comedogenic (doesn’t block your pores).
9. Try a serum
If you find moisturisers are too greasy for your skin, even the non-comedogenic brands, what about a serum instead? Dr. Wong suggests: “Serums can be nice as alternatives and less heavy than some of the creams.”
10. Hormonal treatment
“If you have a lady who has acne well beyond into the adult years and she has other features such as irregular periods and excessive hair, that might suggest poly-cystic ovarian syndrome. In those cases, it’s advisable to get a hormone test and an ultrasound scan of the ovaries. Acne treatments for someone with PCOS would be more geared towards the hormonal side, such as the combined oral contraceptive pill.”