Women acne


Acne is an extremely common skin condition that will affect most of us at some point in our lifetime. Millions have it, and while it’s most commonly associated with teenagers, it’s not limited to any particular age group. It causes spots, oily skin, and (unsurprisingly) many are looking to get rid of it. Are you one of them? Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know, from causes to treatment.

What is acne?
Types of acne

What is acne?

Acne is a skin condition that appears mainly on the face, chest and back. You’ll recognise it by the ‘spots’ it causes on your skin. Mild to moderate acne produces small blackheads or whiteheads, while severe acne has larger inflammations containing fluid, like pustules and cysts. These can be painful, and in severe cases, can lead to permanent scars.

Stages of acne

Types of acne

There are six different types of spot that acne can cause:

  1. 1. Blackheads

    Blackheads are black or yellowish bumps that develop on the skin, usually quite small. They’re not filled with dirt, rather, they are clogged hair follicles that look dark or black on the surface1.

    They’re usually found on the face, but can appear on multiple places on the body, such as the back, chest, neck, or the arms and shoulders.

  2. 2. Whiteheads

    These look very similar to blackheads, but form when dead skin cells, oil, our bacteria become trapped in your pores2.

    Certain life stages, such as puberty, can increase the amount of sebum (oil) produced by your pores. This increased oil production causes clogged pores and then whiteheads.

  3. 3. Papules

    Papules are raised areas of skin less than 1cm around, about the width of a fingernail. They can appear in a variety of colours and sizes but are usually red, and may feel tender or sore3.

  4. 4. Pustules

    Pustules are very similar to papules, but contain fluid or pus1. They look like white bumps surrounded by red skin, usually caused when the pores of your skin become clogged with oil or dead skin cells4. These clogged pores then bulge, causing a pustule, and can appear anywhere on the body. Some of the most common areas include back, face, shoulders and chest.

    In some cases, pustules caused by acne become hard and painful, known as cysts.

  5. 5. Nodules

    Developing just below the skin, nodules are growths of abnormal tissue5. They essentially feel like hard lumps in the skin, often visible, and can be painful1. Some common areas for them to develop include armpits, head and neck.

  6. 6. Cysts

    Cysts are the most severe type of spot acne can; sac-like pockets of membranous tissue that contain fluid1, growing almost anywhere on the body. They can look fairly similar to boils, and carry the highest risk of permanent scarring.

Dermalex acne

Causes & treatment

  1. What causes acne?

    About 95% of people aged 11 to 30 are affected by acne to some extent. So, you’re not alone. But,
    chronic acne can control your life. It not only makes you feel physically uncomfortable; it can also affect your confidence in social situations and self-esteem. Most people try various treatments in a bid to get rid of it.

    Essentially, acne is caused when hair follicles in the skin (tiny holes in the skin) become blocked6, due to glands producing too much sebum, which is an oily substance. This excess sebum mixes with dead skin cells, forming a plug in the follicle.

    If this plug is close to the surface of the skin, it bulges outwards, creating a whitehead. Or, it can be open to the skin, creating a blackhead. Usually harmless bacteria that live on the skin can then infect the plugged follicles, causing:

    • Papules
    • Pustules
    • Nodules
    • Or cysts

    Acne is thought to be triggered by puberty due to increased levels of testosterone, as this can cause the glands to produce more sebum than the skin needs.

  2. Acne triggers

    You can be more likely to develop acne due to a variety of factors, such as:

    • Genes – if your parents had acne, it’s likely you’ll also develop it
    • Changes in hormone levels (periods, pregnancy, polycystic ovary syndrome)
    • Certain medications e.g. steroids
    • Smoking
    • Certain cosmetic products
    • Certain clothing items/accessories (e.g. headbands or backpacks)

    Acne, however, is not caused by poor diet, dirty skin or poor hygiene. These are common misconceptions.

  3. Is acne infectious?

    No, acne is not infectious. You don’t have it because someone passed it to you by touching you, and you can’t pass it on to someone else. This is another common misconception.

    It’s also important to note that while it can leave scarring, acne isn’t dangerous.

  4. Severity of acne

    The severity of acne can usually be placed into three categories :

    1. Mild – mostly whiteheads & blackheads, perhaps a few papules or pustules
    2. Moderate – more whiteheads & blackheads, higher number of papules or pustules
    3. Severe – lots of large, painful papules, pustules, nodules or even cysts. This also carries the greatest risk of scarring
  5. How is acne diagnosed?

    Depending on the severity, a GP may be needed to diagnose acne. You can also speak to a pharmacist for advice.

  6. How to prevent acne

    There is no way to completely prevent acne, but following these tips can help reduce the number and severity of outbreaks:


    Wash your skin regularly, especially after exercising, as sweat clogs your pores. As a general rule, wash your face gently twice a day, using a low – pH cleanser designed for acne-prone skin.

    Don’t overdo it, however. Too much washing can dry out the skin and worsen existing acne. Harsh cleansing can also affect your skin’s protective layer, making it vulnerable to an acne outbreak.

    Make-up and lotions

    If you use make-up, choose ones that won’t block the pores. These are known as non-comedogenic products. Clogging of the pores is a major contributor to acne.

    Things to avoid

    • Popping or squeezing pimples can push pus deeper into the skin, leading to more swelling, inflammation and even permanent scars
    • Many hair sprays and gels contain oil. Oily substances aggravate acne, so it’s better to use hair products that are water-based
    • Tight clothes can chafe and irritate acne on the back and chest
    • Try to avoid oil-based make-up or other products
    • Touching the face too much can spread dirt and oil around the face and cause flare-ups
    • Rubbing or chafing on affected areas can make things worse
    • Rough scrubbing can also worsen acne symptoms
    • Stress may encourage flare-ups
  7. How to cure acne

    Acne is a very common skin condition that affects most people at some point1, and it has many different triggers, so there’s not one ‘cure’ exactly, and it can depend on how severe it is. However, there are many different remedies and lifestyle changes that can alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.

    The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the condition. Mild and moderate cases can be treated with over-the-counter products, while more serious cases require advice from a healthcare professional.

    Treatments include:

    • Cosmetic cleansers and creams that lower sebum production and reduce skin oiliness
    • Topical over-the-counter creams and gels that kill the acne bacteria
    • Antibiotics
    • Birth control pills and other medicines that regulate the hormones
    • Drainage and extraction of large acne cysts by a dermatologist
  8. Acne treatment

    The good news is there’s plenty you can try to improve your acne. We’ve got you covered. However, bear in mind it’s best to speak to a GP about which treatment would be most beneficial for you.

    Creams & ointments

    A dermatologist can help you find the right creams or products that may help:

    • Benzoyl peroxide – this works as an antiseptic to reduce the number of bacteria on the surface of the skin, as well as the number of whiteheads and blackheads8
    • Azelaic acid – this works by getting rid of dead skin and killing bacteria8
    • Topical antibiotics – help kill the bacteria on the skin that infect hair follicles8

    Warm compress

    While it’s easier said than done, it’s not a good idea to pick at your skin and try to force spots to burst. This can cause scarring. However, a warm compress can soften the spot and allow pus to come to the surface. It can also help a pimple come to a head.

    Ice packs

    Ice packs can help reduce inflammation, redness and pain.


    Usually for severe cases only, but your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help treat acne, as they can kill bacteria. These are often taken alongside topical treatments.

    Birth control

    Birth control can help control hormone imbalances that may be causing acne in women.

  9. The Dermalex approach

    Dermalex Acne assists in restoring the skin’s natural PH balance and flora, controls sebum production and helps reduce redness. It’s clinically proven to treat mild to moderate acne symptoms, with proven results after 4 weeks9. Symptoms such as acne spots, redness and swelling can all be treated, without drying out your skin.

How can Dermalex help

The Dermalex range of creams has been specially formulated to moisturise and protect dry skin. Each product in the range is clinically-proven to treat and relieve irritating skin symptoms.

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