9 things you may not know about acne

As a Pharmacist, Acne is a condition that I am all too familiar with, having spent years behind the counter helping clients with solutions to this very distressing condition. Here are 9 things you may not know about acne.

1. Acne can be hereditary

If you or your child's other parent suffered from acne as an adolescent, there is a higher chance that your child will have it too, which makes it important to be aware.  Talk to your kids early and reassure them that you understand and also that there are solutions which work.  Also starting them early with a good cleansing routine can really help.

2. Boys suffer from acne more than girls

Hormones and specifically Testosterone plays a strong part in acne. Obviously boys going through puberty are exposed to a lot of testosterone, which can wreak havoc with their skin.  Don't be fooled though into thinking that a teenage boy doesn't feel self-conscious about breakouts.  Often they can feel quite desperate about their skin and worry that there are no options to solve their problem.  As a teenage boy's parent or guardian, it is our responsibility to reassure them that there are options which will work and help find them.

3. There are 6 different kinds of pimples

There are blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, nodules and cysts.

Blackheads & whiteheads are considered non-inflammatory acne lesions.  This means that they don't have much redness around them. As a result they don't tend to be sore. Papules, pustules, nodules and cysts are all inflammatory lumps of increasing severity.  They are angry and very sore.  I will explain these in greater detail in my next blog and how they relate to figuring out how to treat acne.

4. Hair products can make acne worse

Ever noticed that you have more breakouts around your hairline, particularly if you have a fringe.  Your hair product could be the culprit as it can block the pores on your face.  After you put product in your hair, try to hold your hair away from your skin until it dries. Also make sure you clean your skin well if any hair product gets on it.

5. If you had adolescent acne, you are more likely to get acne when you are pregnant

The hormone surges in pregnancy are responsible for pregnancy acne.  The good news is that there are pregnancy-safe skincare solutions which can really help treat the breakouts.  The other good news is that it tends to clear up quick-smart after delivery.  (There are also some acne treatments which can be very dangerous for unborn babies, including any of those based on Vitamin A, like Roaccutance, Isotrex or other retinoids.)

6. Acne occurs at some point for more than 80% of people

You are so not alone. This is a really common problem.  And acne's impact on self-worth makes it a serious condition, not a "cosmetic" one.  The good news is that there are effective solutions.  They don't work overnight and sometimes you need a little trial & error to find the right solution for you ... right now.

7. Pimples can sometimes return around menopause

Yep, it's back to hormones again.  It is thought that the hormonal changes are what can cause pimples, extra facial hair as well as even some baldness.  GREAT!  The good news is that the acne tends to be mild and resolve quickly.

8. Acne is not caused by greasy food

Hooray for chocolate!  Extensive (serious) scientific research has shown that there is no connection between eating chocolate or greasy foods and acne.  Acne is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells and then hormones and inflammation get involved... 

9. Acne scars are treatable (& preventable)

Acne scars can be treated by Dermatologists using combinations of lasers and chemical peels but the best treatment is prevention.  Not all acne will naturally cause scarring.  Generally, it will be the more severe cysts and nodules which cause scarring if left untreated. However constant picking and squeezing can cause scarring even in mild forms of acne.  Early treatment of acne and good skin maintenance will prevent scarring in the first place.

Look out for my next blog post to learn about different grades of acne and how you treat them.

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