Why do I keep getting spots?
Spots, or acne vulgaris, is common in teenagers and young adults, but can occur throughout adulthood for some people. It is a condition which cannot be cured but which can be managed for most people, although for some this may involve strong medications obtained via a dermatologist, after referral from your GP.
What causes acne?
Hormones are often involved, which is why it is common at puberty, when androgens, or sex hormones, kick in. Other triggers can be pregnancy, menopause and menstruation.
What’s going on when I get spots?
Hormonal changes cause increased sebum (oil) production from sebaceous glands and hair follicles. These get blocked by keratinocytes (dead skin cells), leading to the development of blocked pores, eg whiteheads, blackheads (whiteheads in which the head of the oil plug has oxidised, turning black), also called comedones. When these comedones are attacked by the p. Acnes bacteria, they form papules, or hard, swollen lumps, pustules and spots. This bacteria is anaerobic, meaning it can only survive in the absence of oxygen.
How can I manage my acne?
It is important to maintain a good skincare regime, with GENTLE cleansing and light moisturisation. Harsh chemicals, or drying agents, merely encourage the skin to produce more oil making the condition worse. Good skincare ranges include Cetaphil, (available from most chemists) and Neostrata. Using a cleanser which contains a glycolic acid (Neostrata antibacterial face wash) will help to remove the debris which cause the blockage and allow oxygen to penetrate the follicles. Some people find using a cleanser which contains benzoyl peroxide very helpful, as this increases cell turnover, clearing pores to reduce acne, but it can also dry the skin, leading to a cycle of dryness, increased sebum production and spots. For this reason, try to find a product which contains only 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, which is proven as effective as 5 and 10% solutions, with less side effects.
Treating spots with laser and light
If you’re still struggling to control your acne, then there are a variety of light treatments that may help. These use laser or light technology to blast spots with ultraviolet light, oxidising spots and killing off bacteria. At Eliza Clark we use the Spa Touch heat/light technology to clear spots. Another option is to invest in some skin peels, which work by peeling the top layer of skin whilst deep cleansing to help clear your skin and leave it healthy and glowing.
All of these treatments can also be used in conjunction with antibiotic therapy available from your GP or dermatologist, if they deem your acne to be severe enough to require this. Do be aware that many of these treatments will make your skin more photosensitive, so that it becomes important to use a good sunscreen, even in the depths of our grey winter climate.
If you’d like a free, confidential, consultation to discuss your skin’s requirements, please contact me via email or phone 07882 845 325.