How to manage my Acne

As if being a teenager wasn't hard enough, acne decides to tag along and cruelly mark its territory on you throughout your entire puberty. GREAT.

It's a tough time, but believe it or not, acne is incredibly common, with around 80% of 11-30 year olds affected by it. Acne usually occurs on the face, arms, back and chest, and there are many misconceptions surrounding this irritating skin condition, such as that chocolate and a lack of cleanliness can trigger it; in fact, there is no evidence to suggest that any of this is true.

Acne most commonly occurs in puberty because of changes to hormone levels, which cause the sebaceous glands to produce increased amounts of sebum that blocks the hair follicles and causes spots ranging from blackheads to painful red nodules. Acne can often correct itself, but there are also a number of over-the-counter and prescription treatments available. Here, we suggest some easy ways to help you manage it...

Please note that if you are particularly concerned about your acne, it is always best to speak to your GP.


Make like a rabbit...

... and eat lots of carrots! Carrots contain vitamin A which strengthens the protective tissue of the skin, reducing acne, as well as sebum production. However, only consume a maximum of a couple a day as it is possible to see your skin turn orange if you eat too many! This is known as Carotenosis. Other great vegetables for acne include: kale, spinach, red peppers, and pumpkin.


Hands off!

As tempting as it might be, don't pick your acne!! Sometimes, you might be distracted and not even realise you're doing it, but definitely try and break the habit as you could be left with scarring once it clears.


Don't milk it

Too much dairy can cause your oil glands to go into overdrive, so try to cut down on cheese, cream, butter and anything else that contains milk. Some good substitutes include coconut butter, tofu, vegan yoghurt and soy milk.


Watch how you wash

As mentioned in the introduction, there is nothing to suggest that bad hygiene can cause acne and in fact, it is possible to be toooo clean. The NHS recommends you don't wash affected areas more than a couple of times a day, as washing can aggravate acne. Try not to wash with harsh cleansers or water that is too hot or too cold, as this can also cause skin to flair up.


Don't wake up with make up!

Apart from waking up to a ruined pillow smeared with yesterday's war paint, going to sleep with make up doesn't allow your skin to breathe, and makes for an ideal breeding ground for acne. Always make an effort to clean make up off before bed, and as mentioned above, use cleansers that are kind to sensitive skin. Look out for products that contain at least one of the following ingredients: glycol acid, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide, as cleansers containing these are particularly good at un-clogging pores.


Stub out that cigarette

If you smoke, it's definitely a good idea to stop now! Not only will this improve your overall health, but you're likely to almost immediately notice improvements in your skin condition. Apart from triggering acne, smoking can cause premature skin ageing, wrinkles, and discolouration.


Zinc about it

Studies have shown that consuming zinc can help improve acne. Foods that contain high levels of this mineral include: shellfish, poultry, mushrooms, beans, green vegetables, and sunflower seeds.


Tea Tree-t it

There are a number of herbs which can work brilliantly in reducing acne. Try applying small amounts of tea tree oil (2-3 drops) to a cotton ball and dabbing it on the skin, or applying 5-6 drops of jojoba or juniper oil in the same way. Bear in mind that these can cause skin irritation, so best speak to a dermatologist about these before use.

For further support, information, and advice on how to treat acne, check out the NHS website.

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