Laura Dowling (pictured)
Pharmacist Manager, Lloyds Pharmacy Ireland
Acne is one of the most common disorders treated by dermatologists. The prevalence of acne vulgaris globally was 681.2 million in 2016, an increase of 10% from 612 million in 2006 (1).
Acne is a common, chronic, inflammatory disease of sebaceous follicles, the glands that produce sebum. Approximately 80% of people are affected by acne between the onset of puberty and 30 years of age (1).
Psychological impacts of acne
Acne can range in severity from person to person and can lead to prominent emotional and psychological issues.
Acne is more than just a cosmetic nuisance – it can cause anxiety, depression and other psychological problems that affect lives in ways comparable to arthritis or other disabling illnesses (1).
Your pharmacist is here to help
Pharmacies are usually the first port of call when a person begins to show symptoms of mild acne. Most people will require advice as the sheer number of products to choose from can be bewildering.
Approximately 80% of people are affected by acne between the onset of puberty and 30 years of age.
A good skincare regime, especially in the early stages, can really help to keep acne under control, and many options are now available over the counter without prescription.
The use of salicylic acid to treat acne
Salicylic acid helps shed cells from the surface of the skin and can decrease redness and swelling. This decreases the number of spots that form and encourages healing.
Salicylic acid can dry out the skin, however, so it is important to get the correct advice about maintaining skin’s integrity.
I myself suffer with hormonal cystic breakouts and find that a good skincare regime, with products containing alpha hydroxy acids as active ingredients, has really helped control my acne.
It is imperative to start on very low percentages of these active ingredients and work your way up to the more concentrated versions to allow your skin to build tolerance. The same instructions apply to retinol products, which are usually associated with anti-ageing, but work excellently for breakout-prone skin too.
If the problem persists, consult your GP
If a good skincare regime is not giving you the results that you want, a visit to your GP is always a good idea.
Your GP can prescribe you a variety of treatments such as antibiotic creams and tablets which help with the more stubborn acne. For example, the oral contraceptive pill is sometimes all a woman requires to get her acne under control.
If all else fails, your GP can refer you to a consultant dermatologist who can prescribe more potent products such as isotretinoin. Laser can also be prescribed to help reduce acne scars.
Help and support is available
It is important to seek help for your acne and never suffer in silence. There are so many treatments available nowadays. Treating your acne will result in clearer skin and a more confident you. Just ask for help.
(1) Global acne market report for 2016-2026, Dec 2011