During teenage years, young men and women often have a slight hormonal imbalance in favour of the male hormone testosterone. Testosterone makes the glands in hair follicles on your face, back or neck produce too much oil (sebum), which then gets clogged in the pores. Bacteria grow in the trapped oil and break it down to produce fatty substances that irritate your skin. This gives you whiteheads, blackheads, pimples or deep cysts.
Treatments that are applied to the skin (topical treatments) are usually recommended at first. Some of these are available from the pharmacy without a prescription. If your acne is severe, it's best to talk with a doctor first who may prescribe a medicine for you or refer you to a skin specialist (dermatologist).
Topical treatments include:
Acne treatments don't do much for existing pimples – their job is to help prevent the next round. Therefore, treatments can take some weeks or months to show an improvement in the acne.
Try any new cream or lotion on a small area first, in case of irritation. Then apply to face, shoulders and back (if affected) rather than just the individual spots (follow specific product directions).
See your doctor if your acne doesn’t get better after using topical treatments or makes you feel down (depressed). Early treatment for severe acne may help prevent scarring.
Treatments may include:
There may not be agreement among experts about the effect of diet on acne and it has been thought that no special diets are required. However, some studies show a reduction in acne in people who follow a low-GI (low Glycaemic Index) diet.
A low-GI diet:
Making changes to the way you eat may not help everyone with acne. Talk to your doctor or dietitian for further advice.
Acne All about acne (AUS), 2014Live well with acne and common myths explained NHS Choices (UK), 2014