Acne, or acne vulgaris, is a common skin condition that causes spots. It can vary from mild to severe and can affect the skin of your face, back, shoulders and chest.
Acne is very common in teenagers and young adults − about eight in 10 people have acne at some point between the ages of 11 and 30. Teenagers mainly get it between the ages of 14 and 19. It's less common in later life but adult acne can affect people aged 25 to 40 too.
Acne starts to develop when hair follicles in your skin get blocked with sebum (a natural oil) and dead skin cells. During your teenage years, your skin produces more of this oil because of hormonal changes (an increase in your testosterone level).
This can lead to dark spots, called ‘blackheads’, or light-coloured spots known as ‘whiteheads’. You can also get inflamed spots that look like red bumps (papules), or are yellow in colour (pustules) or spots that contain fluid (cysts).
Sometimes, a bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) that usually lives harmlessly on your skin can grow inside your hair follicles. It can contribute to inflammation (swelling) in spots.
If you have acne, you may have spots on your face, chest, back, and shoulders. You might not have them on all of these areas. For example, acne can affect just your face, or just your chest or back.
The spots are described as non-inflamed or inflamed. Blackheads and whiteheads are non-inflamed spots. Inflamed spots include red bumps and lumps, yellow pus-filled spots or fluid-filled cysts. In very severe acne, cysts may join together to form larger, deeper inflamed areas.
Your skin may be greasy and the spots may feel hot and tender to the touch.
You may get one type of spot or a mixture of the different types. The severity varies from person to person but the following is a guide.
- Mild: you mostly have non-inflamed spots, with blackheads and whiteheads.
- Moderate: you have a mixture of inflamed and non-inflamed spots and you may be at risk of them leaving scars.
- Severe: you have a lot of inflamed spots and cysts that are widespread on your skin and are at a high risk of scarring.
Try not to pick or squeeze your skin. This can make acne worse and lead to scarring.
Acne isn’t caused by having poor hygiene, so extra washing or scrubbing doesn't make it better – in fact, that can make acne worse. Gently wash spot-prone areas as normal with a mild cleanser (preferably soap free and sulfate free) and lukewarm water. You don’t need to wash your skin more than twice a day at most.
Be patient with any treatment you’re having – it can take four to eight weeks to see an improvement and several months to see significant improvement. When you first start treatment, your skin might feel more irritated but this will get better. If this happens, you can try stopping the treatment for a couple of days and then building up slowly.
It’s better for your skin not to wear make-up but it’s understandable that wearing make-up might help you feel more confident and less self-conscious. In which case, choose make-up products that are water-based and oil-free. Also, look on the label and choose products that are non-comedogenic or non-acnedemic (these shouldn’t cause blackheads, whiteheads, or acne). Make sure you completely remove your make-up at night.
If your skin is dry (some acne creams can cause dry skin), you can use a fragrance-free, water-based moisturising cream. Don’t use ointments or oily products because they can block your pores.
Products containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or sulfur may help. These treatments are antibacterial and so reduce the amount of bacteria on your skin. You can buy these treatments from pharmacies and larger supermarkets. You might not see an improvement immediately and your skin might get a bit worse to start with, but this won’t last. However, these ingredients tends to be harsh, irritating to your skin, and drying.
If you prefer something milder, gentle and natural, Ortea® AcneFix is a good option that doesn't contain harsh ingredients, however it generally takes slightly longer times to observe visible results.
1. Cleansing: use a soap-free and sulfate-free gentle cleanser (such as Ortea® AcneFix Foam Cleanser), cleanse your face twice a day. Avoid soap based cleanser as high pH will make your condition worst.
2. Exfoliating: Use a AHA and BHA exfoliator. Certain product is low concentration and suit for daily gentle exfoliation (such as Ortea® AcneFix Fruit Acid Rejuvenator) while other high concentration product is meant for weekly or monthly exfoliation. Avoid using physical scrub, it will makes your condition worst
3. Moisturising: Use a non-comedogenic moisturiser that contain antiacne ingredients (such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or sulfur), antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and oil-control ingredients. Alternatively, Ortea® AcneFix series provide a natural alternative which is gentle and milder.