Previously dismissed by many as solely a cosmetic issue, the medical condition of acne is caused by the over-production of oils from the sebaceous glands. Most commonly a by-product of fluctuating hormone levels, this can lead to often painful, blocked and inflamed pores over the face, back and chest. Whilst most will experience acne as they transition through puberty, adult acne is becoming increasingly common amongst those over the age of 25, with NHS figures suggesting that women are five times more likely to be affected by later-life acne than men. This can be accredited to changing hormones during their menstrual cycle, pregnancy and alternating methods of contraception.
Adult acne – which can often lead to scarring and pigmentation – can have devastating impacts on an individual’s self esteem, and their mental health. In a recent report published by The British Journal of Dermatology, researchers found that those with acne were 63 percent at higher risk of depression compared to individuals living without the condition.
Sufferers of acne can often feel isolated in a world that is increasingly exposed to unrealistic Instagram filters and Facetune, a photo editing app used to edit, enhance and retouch photos. Looking to break down the stigma surrounding the condition, 2018 saw the social media-led movement of Skin Positivity. With thousands of posts on Instagram featuring the #skinpositivity, the movement has been praised by sufferers for providing a more honest account of living with the condition by exhibiting make-up free, untouched images of blemishes. Celebrities such as Cara Delevingne have also made a stance to help promote a more positive social attitude towards acne. Taking to her Instagram account, the model reposted an image by photographer and activist Peter DeVito that featured the words ‘Acne is normal’ emblazoned across his blemished face.
Whilst many old wives’ tales claim to help banish pesky spots forever (toothpaste, anyone?), there is no miracle cure for the condition. However, facial treatments, lifestyle changes and (in severe cases), prescribed medical treatments can be highly effective in preventing the formation of new spots, scarring and pigmentation. These can include topical treatments, which are directly applied to the skin, and oral antibiotics.
Take a look at our top three, non-prescriptive treatments that can help keep your skin looking blemish-free
Overnight Clearing Gel, £46.50 Dermalogica
With the help of salicylic acid – a substance renowned for its acne-fighting properties – this gel is a cult favourite amongst skin-care enthusiasts. Removing impacted plugs from the problem follicle to help relieve congestion and breakouts, the gel also works to help regulate oil production, leaving skin looking clearer and healthier.
Drying Lotion, £13 Mario Badescu
We’ve all been there. You have a special occasion approaching and when you look in the mirror the night before, you have an unsightly spot lurking on your chin.This award-winning drying lotion uses a combination of salicylic acid, sulphur and zinc oxide to help draw impurities from the skin and target blemishes while you sleep.
Deep Pore Cleansing Masque, £24 Kiehl’s
If it’s pore-fect skin you’re after, look no further. This ultra cleansing masque contains mineral-rich Amazonian white clay, which helps gently draw out oil, dirt and toxins that clog pores. Best suited for those with oily to normal skin types, the masque also contains the soothing ingredients of oatmeal and aloe vera to help calm irritated areas.
We take a look at some of the best treatments that can help with acne scarring
Although any type of acne blemish can lead to scarring, it is more likely to occur when acne sufferers pick or squeeze their spots or more severe types of spots – such as nodules and cysts – burst and damage the nearby skin. If your active acne has cleared and scarring is now your main concern, many private clinics offer treatment for acne scarring, with prices varying widely depending on the type of treatment required. Treatments for acne scarring are currently regarded as a form of cosmetic surgery, which isn’t commonly available on the NHS. However, exceptions have been made in the past when it has been show that acne scarring has caused severe psychological distress.
Commonly used to improve the appearance of acne scars, dermabrasion is a skin-resurfacing procedure that involves using lasers or a specially-made wire brush to remove the top layer of the skin. Although skin will initially look red and sore for several months, as it heals you should begin to notice an improvement in the appearance of scars. Available at selected salons Yorkshirewide.
There are two types of laser treatments that can be used to treat mild to moderate acne scarring. The first is ablative laser treatment, which involves lasers being used to remove a small patch of skin around the scar to form a new, smoother-looking area of skin. The second is a non-ablative laser treatment which uses lasers to help stimulate the growth of new collagen (a type of protein found in skin) and repair skin damage caused by scarring. Available at selected salons Yorkshirewide.
Punch techniques are prominently used to treat ice pick scars and boxcar scars. Whilst ice pick scars are characterised by their small, deep holes in the surface of the skin, boxcar scars are more likely to form round or oval depressions in the skin. There are three different types of punch techniques: punch excision, punch elevation and punch grafting.
Punch excision is used to treat mild ice pick scars and involves surgically removing the scar before sealing the remaining wound. After the wound heals, skin is left looking smoother and more even. Punch elevation is used to treat boxcar scars by surgically removing the base of the scar, leaving the sides of the scar in place. The base is then reattached to the sides but is now level with the surface of the skin, making the scar much less noticeable. Punch grafting is used to treat deep ice pick scars. Similar to a punch excision, the scar is removed and the wound is instead plugged with a sample of skin taken elsewhere from the body. Available at selected salons Yorkshirewide.