Acne is a skin condition in which excess oil (sebum) is produced in response to hormones, and is trapped by a keratin plug. Sebum is produced on an on-going basis to provide an oily film on the skin to prevent excessive moisture loss. Acne is very common in teenagers and up to three quarters of the age group will, at some point suffer to some degree. Acne normally starts at the same time as puberty with increased production of or sensitivity to a hormone produced at this time. Girls can tend to suffer earlier than males but in general most cases of acne will have cleared by the time the person reaches around 25 years of age.

Certain situations aggravate acne, including hormonal changes (menstruation and pregnancy), continuously working in a greasy environment, and stress. Acne is NOT caused by lack of hygiene, too much greasy food or chocolate, these are just myths.

The main causes of acne are:
  • Blocked pores due to overgrowth of skin cells around a hair follicle. This stops the skin cells shedding and causes them to accumulate and block the pore.
  • Excessive sebum production. This accumulates and together with skin cells block the pores of the skin leading to blackheads and whiteheads.
  • Bacterial infection can arise where bacteria react with the sebum, which triggers the formation of inflammatory papules and /or pustules.
  • Inflammation makes the skin around the follicle red, swollen and painful. Dead white cells, skin cells and bacteria gather in the follicle as pus. The gland can rupture allowing pus into nearby glands which can make the inflammation worse.
Benzoyl peroxide: is a keratolytic (helps to break down keratin plug) agent with antibacterial activity. It works by drying and peeling the skin and killing some of the bacteria present. It is effective in mild to moderate acne and should be used continuously to prevent acne returning. It is available in different strengths and it is usual to start with a lower strength and to increase the concentration gradually. Some adverse effects include local irritation where the skin becomes red and sore, so the patient should either use it at night so the redness has faded by the morning, or should be washed off after a few hours. It can stain clothes and bed linen and customers patients are advised to wash their hands after application.

Salicylic acid: Helps correct the abnormal shedding of cells. In milder acne it helps to unclog pores, resolve and prevent lesions. It must be used

continuously as its effects cease when treatment stops. Antiseptics: e.g. triclosan, chloroxylenol, chlorhexidine and phenol are found in a number of products for the treatment of mild acne.
Visit your pharmacist or doctor:
  • If the acne is severe or widespread
  • If the condition shows no improvement despite continuous and correct use of a product
  • If signs of infection are present

Helpful Tips from Mulligans Pharmacy:

  • At Mulligans Pharmacy, we understand that our customers may need treatment for symptoms of a personal or sensitive nature. Our pharmacists are always available for a discreet chat in our private consultation room at your request, or you can ask a Mulligans Pharmacist a question in confidence here.
  • Most acne products take several weeks to work and this should be taken into account when assessing the improvement of the skin.
  • Do not over-wash the skin as this may make itdry and sensitive to some acne treatments. Washing the skin twice daily is recommended,
  • Facial scrubs can be damaging to the skin if used too often and must be used with care.
  • Greasy make-up can clog skin pores and should be avoided, if make-up is used it is important to ensure that all traces of make-up are removed at night.
  • Do not squeeze the spots as this may result in scarring
  • When using a new acne product, patients are advised to try some of the product on a small area of skin first to ensure that it does not cause an allergic reaction.
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The information provided is intended solely as a guide. Please seek the advice of your pharmacist to determine whether a particular service, medication, or treatment programme will be of value to you. Always check the dosage directions carefully on all medicines. Never combine medicines without consulting your doctor or pharmacist. All health facts and information contained herein should not be a substitute for medical advice. The use of this site is subject to our Terms & Conditions.
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