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No one should have to put up with acne. It can be upsetting, painful, cause embarrassment, reduce confidence and it can scar. But is it treatable and almost everyone with acne can be cleared with the right help.
Acne is not caused by lack of washing, greasy hair, dirt, food allergy, chocolate or too much or too little sex. It is caused by activity of the oil glands, especially on the face back and chest. This activity is controlled by hormones, which explains why acne often starts in adolescence, when hormone levels rise. It is also caused by overgrowth of skin inside the hair follicles on the skin, overgrowth of a normally-friendly bacterium inside the follicles and most important by your body’s immune reaction to the increased levels of the bacterium, which leads to red painful spots some of which contain white pus.
Acne is not just a teenage problem but affects lots of adults, especially adult women. One in four 25-year old women and one in twenty 40-year old women gets adult acne. Acne is sometimes trivialised or even joked about. The words ‘spotty teenager’ are often used disparagingly by journalists to imply someone that is emotionally immature or inexperienced. It’s hard for teenagers, whose spots coincide with a period in life where they often first begin to care very much about how they appear to other people. Adult acne it is often not at all funny, especially those who have client-facing jobs, professionals and those in entertainment. I’ve had actors as patients who have lost potentially break-through roles in major dramas because they have developed acne and have been told their ‘look has changed’.