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Acne – you don’t have to suffer

Acne is a skin condition that can severely impact self-confidence both while it is present and, if it leaves scarring, throughout life.

“While it can occur in adults, it is much more common in teenagers and can lead to real self-confidence issues at a vulnerable age,” says Hawke’s Bay specialist dermatologist Juber Hafiji.

Acne is not a ‘normal’ part of growing up. Acne is a medical condition that can lead to anxiety and depression and should be treated in a timely fashion, as shown in a recent publication in the British Journal of Dermatology. (1)

Most people try over the counter products with little success.  “That’s because there are many types of acne and the treatment needs to be clinically evidence-based and tailored to the type of acne you have,” says Dr Hafiji.

The causes of Acne are complex. On a simplistic level, Acne occurs as a result of oily secretions under the skin that block the openings of hair follicles. This results in blackheads, whiteheads, pustules and cysts.

Acne is not caused by having ‘dirty’ skin, says Dr Hafiji. “In fact scrubbing at your skin without treating the acne can make it worse.” There is emerging evidence that avoiding foods that are quickly digested and absorbed causing a rapid rise in blood sugar (processed foods, sugar containing beverages, fast food etc) and consuming more green vegetables and fruits can help improve acne.  The association between acne and dairy consumption is weak.  Hormonal factors however are very important, and acne can run in families.”

A common myth is that acne-prone skin should not be moisturised. “That is not true; you should moisturise your skin but you do need to use an oil-free moisturiser, specifically developed not to block pores, which won’t aggravate your acne.”

He says the best action parents of teens with acne can take, is to help them get specialist advice on the best way to have their acne treated. “And, as with all skin conditions, the earlier treatment starts the better. That will lessen the likelihood of permanent scarring.”

(1) More than skin deep: a survey of real-life experiences of acne vulgaris

A.G. Ra,B. Ho,L. Bickerstaffe,A. Bewley

First published: 02 September 2021