Acne Questions & Answers

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Q: What causes acne?

A: In simplified terms, acne is the result of tiny glands (sebaceous glands) in your skin producing too much of their natural oil called sebum. In normal quantities sebum is helpful to the skin but when your body produces too much of a hormone called androgen your glands go into overdrive and make more sebum than the skin can deal with. This excess of sebum tries, as usual, to reach the surface of the skin through the follicles and pores but, because there is too much of it, these tiny holes in the surface of the skin get clogged with oil. This forms a blackhead or a whitehead. If the natural bacteria, which lives on the skin, comes into contact with these clogs the blackhead or whitehead becomes inflamed which forms what we know as a zit or spot. For a more detailed answer, check out the ‘Understanding Acne’ section.

Q: Is squeezing spots bad?

A: Yes! Never, ever, ever squeeze or tamper with acne. Squeezing pimples may cause a temporary reduction in swelling and redness but will eventually result in a scab, which can leave permanent scarring. Also, touching your face with your hands and fingers spreads bacteria and can make your acne worse.

Q: Does diet help acne?

A: Diet can affect acne but it will not directly cause or cure it. Changes in diet have been shown to improve some people’s acne and eating an unhealthy diet can worsen the skin.

This is because the main cause of acne is a hormone called androgen and your diet can affect the level of androgen in your body. For instance, eating a large quantity of meat, which is often injected with hormones, can increase your levels of androgen. This could worsen your acne. Consuming foods high in essential fatty acids, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6 and Zinc, however, could help control your hormones which can help improve acne.

Q: Will wearing make up make my acne worse?

A: Some make up will make your acne worse. However, there are many kinds of make up that are fine to use on acne-prone skin as long as you remember to thoroughly remove it before bed and gently cleanse your skin once or twice a day. Make sure to steer clear of thick, greasy make up and instead look for products labelled ‘non-comedogenic’. Another good tip is to keep your brushes and applicators clean and use disposable ones whenever possible.

Q: Are acne scars permanent?

A: Some scars from severe acne can be permanent. Quite often, however, the dark, ‘coloured’ scars fade and disappear in time. If they do not fade your doctor or dermatologist can offer you effective treatments to remove acne scars. These treatments most commonly include microdermabrasion, laser resurfacing, chemical peeling and fractional laser therapy. See the ‘Acne Scars and Acne Scar Treatments’ section for more information.

Q: Will my acne ever go away?

A: Almost certainly, yes. Don’t worry, it may feel like you may never be acne free but the skin condition usually clears up in the late teens and early twenties. In some cases men may have acne into their thirties but, with appropriate treatment, acne can be controlled and largely gotten rid of within a few months. Some people get acne in later life but with the a good over-the-counter product or the help of your doctor or dermatologist this too only has to be a fleeting inconvenience. If you are worried about your acne or it is causing you to feel depressed it is a good idea to talk to your doctor, as there are many treatments available, at least one of which will work for you.

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