It was an obvious choice to discuss acne care on AskDocJames. 

I regularly see patients troubled by acne spots across their face, shoulders and back, their self-confidence damaged because of the condition. Thankfully there are a lot of treatments for spots and we can normally find a treatment for everyone in the end. It is also great to see patients returning in the subsequent months with a clearer complexion and a smile on their face! The videos that I have created go through all of the options available to get acne-free skin from over-the-counter treatments all the way through to specialist referral.

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What causes acne?

Acne normally starts to develop as you enter puberty, with the most common ages for acne being between 12 and 25. It is due to the hormone rises seen in puberty stimulating the follicles in your skin to produce more sebum. Sebum is an oily substance that keeps the follicles and the surrounding skin hydrated. Sebum unfortunately also blocks the follicles and it is the blockage of the follicles that causes the pimples that you take as acne.

Treatment of spots:  What are the options?

Start with ensuring that you wash your face on a daily basis and exfoliate regularly. This will ensure that you maximise the clearance of blocked pores by removing dead skin. Avoiding thick, oily moisturisers will also help to keep your pores from clogging and causing spots. If you wear make-up, try and stick to water-based or powder make-up. Over-the-counter acne skin treatments include benzoyl-peroxide, which is readily available without a prescription. If this treatment doesn’t lead to acne free skin then make an appointment with your Doctor to discuss other prescribed options.

Acne myths

Dirt doesn’t cause acne: the reason for the blackness of black heads is in fact a build-up of the normal skin pigment melanin and certainly isn’t dirt.
Chocolate and chips do not cause acne: the oils in these foods are not the same oils created by your pores.  Despite this revelation, please eat these sorts of foods in moderation!
Squeezing spots helps them heal: popping spots can lead to spread of the bacteria in the pimples causing outbreaks elsewhere, squeezing them will also increase the risk of scarring.

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