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Select the treatment or medication you need and answer a few questions online regarding your condition.
02. Online Consultation
Our Independent Prescribers will review your questions and assess your suitability for the medication.
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Your medication is dispensed and delivered directly to you from our UK based Pharmacy.
What is Acne?
Acne is a common skin condition which causes oily skin, spots or hot and painful areas of skin. It can affect people of all ages, and many people experience acne during their lives. However, as it is linked to changes in hormones, teenagers and pregnant women are the most vulnerable to acne.
You can experience acne in varying degrees. Some people are fortunate to only have mild acne which comes up as the occasional few pimples. Unfortunately, some people can experience severe acne which can produce cysts and a flare up of spots.
What are the most common acne types and symptoms?
Acne most commonly affects the face, back and chest. There are 6 different types of spots which are caused by acne. These include:
- Blackheads – plugged pores which are dark or black in colour
- Whiteheads – plugged pores which are closed and yellow or white in colour
- Papules – small red bumps which can feel tender
- Pustules – large lumps that grow beneath the surface of the skin and can be sore
- Cysts – these carry the biggest risk of scarring and can look like boils
Cystic Acne most commonly affects the chin, jaw and forehead area; however it can also appear on the upper back and chest. Cystic acne is most common in teenagers going through puberty; however it can last well into your mid 20’s and if left untreated can also leave scars on your skin.
Cystic acne can also be genetic, for example if one of your parents had it; there is a greater chance that you can also develop it.
Cystic Acne can be treated with both topical and oral prescription medication although the dosage will depend on your condition and how severe the Acne is.
Mild forms of acne such as black heads and white heads can be treated by the pharmacist with over the counter treatments. However, if you begin to suffer with papules, pustules or cysts it is recommended you visit your dermatologist for advice.
Not all spots or rashes are caused by acne. If you notice unusual swelling or the development of a rash you should visit your DR or call 111. Unusual or sudden rashes can be the sign of an illness such as meningitis which needs to be treated as urgently.
What Causes Acne?
Acne is caused by a combination of biological processes on the skin. Usually, it begins with a change in hormone levels. That’s why those who are pregnant, going through puberty or menstruating can have acne flare ups.
As hormones increase during these cycles, it disrupts the balance. Some hormones are responsible for increasing the oil production. An increase in oil, or sebum, on the skin causes acne in two ways.
Firstly, sebum blocks hair follicles, causing white heads or black heads. Secondly, the increase in sebum irritates a usually harmless bacterium which lives on the skin, P.acnes.
P.acnes is the bacteria which creates pus and infection. Contamination may then occur, which causes papules, pustules, nodules or cysts. Contaminated spots are also the beginning of more moderate or severe acne.
If you do suffer with acne, there are some triggers which can cause it to worsen. These include:
- Cosmetic products
- Medications – steroids, anti-depressants or some anti-epileptic treatments
- Wearing clothing which press on problem areas such as head bands, caps or backpacks
If you are worried you have developed acne, you can visit your doctor. A GP will be able to confirm whether it is mild, moderate or severe acne by looking at your skin. They will take a look at all areas effected by the spots.
Your doctor may count the number of whiteheads, black heads, or sore nodules on your skin to assess the severity of your acne.
If you think your acne is mild, a pharmacist will be able to offer advise on products and treatments to help get rid of acne.
What is the best acne treatment?
If your acne does not respond well to the use of over the counter products, it is recommended you that visit a dermatologist or GP. Topical retinoid creams such as Epiduo gel, Treclin gel and Isotrexin gel are common examples of prescription medication.
Retinol is derived from vitamin A which works by breaking down the top layer of your skin. By removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin it helps reduce the risk of pores becoming plugged. By breaking down skin cells, it encourages the cell turn over cycle. An increase in cell turn over creates skin evening results and can remove redness.
Usually retinoid treatments are introduced to your routine slowly. You may begin using a retinoid cleanser in the evening 3 times a week and build up to using it daily.
Antibiotics are also prescribed to treat acne. Common branded examples are Oxytetracycline, Minocycline, Tetralysal and Minocin. Anti-acne antibiotics kill excess skin bacteria and reduce redness. Antibiotic treatment is often paired with a benzoyl product so that the bacteria doesn’t become resistant to the medication.
Is there an Acne Cure?
Unfortunately, you cannot cure acne. However, you can relieve redness and reduce spots and scarring. Some treatments to help get rid of acne that you can try at home are:
- Washing your hair regularly and trying to keep hair from off your face. This reduces oil transferring across your face or back.
- Washing the area affected with a mild cleanser and lukewarm water to reduce irritation. It is advised to not wash your face anymore than twice a day as this may worsen your skin.
- Remove all makeup or oil products such as sun cream before going to bed
- Try and exercise more, as this is proven to improve your mood
- Use fragrance-free and water-based products where possible on effected areas
- Do not pick or pop acne spots as this can spread infection and cause scarring
You should visit your GP if your acne worsens, or it is making you feel very unhappy. Antibiotics or topical treatments may be prescribed to help improve your acne.
How can I get rid of Acne Scars
Once you have cleared the spots and infection from the skin, you can be left with pockmarks or blemishes across your face. Many people can become self-conscious of acne scarring and it may cause low mood.
Fortunately, there are now numerous treatments you can undergo to reduce the appearance of acne scars and uneven texture. For instance, dermal fillers have begun to be used to fill deep pock marks on the skin. However, fillers are temporary, and so will need to be repeated around twice a year to maintain results.
Microdermabrasion has become a popular option for those suffering with acne scars. The specialist treatment involves using tiny crystal jets to power exfoliate the skin. It is effective at reducing red scar marks across the face. Again, this may take a few sessions to clear the skin.
If you are worried about indented scars, micro needling treatments may help to reduce their appearance. The process involves using a pulse of energy and heat, with micro needles which penetrate the skin and break down difficult scar tissue. This remodels collagen and can significantly reduce deep pockmarks in the skin.
Is the Sun good for Acne?
It is a myth that the sun can help to clear up acne. In fact, ultraviolet rays can increase inflammation and scarring. If you are taking any medication for acne, your treatment may also make your skin more sensitive to UV.
Try and keep covered up and apply a high SPF to protect your skin from damage. If you are worried about sun cream worsening your skin, look for products which are ‘noncomedogenic’ as they are less likely to cause spots.
The most common Acne Myths
Other acne myths include the theory that acne can be caused by diet or poor hygiene. However, there is no medical evidence to support this myth. Although, washing your face with products such as Clearasil can help to remove excess oils and clear pores.
Another acne myth you may have heard is that it can help to pop black heads, spots or whiteheads. By squeezing spots, you inflame the skin and could cause your skin to permanently scar.
Acne is not contagious. As it is an internal biological process, you cannot transfer the skin condition through touching, kissing or even sharing clothing.
Acne is thought to be hereditary in most cases. If you mother or father suffered with acne, it’s likely you may too. However, as hormones play such a bit part in the cause of acne, pregnancy or the menstrual cycle can cause an outbreak of spots. Teenagers going through puberty are also at high risk of developing acne.
Over the counter Acne Treatment
There are various treatments which can be bought over the counter to help tackle your spots. However, mild acne is defined as a few blackheads, whiteheads and spots.
You can also buy cleansers, face washes and lotions which contain benzoyl or salicylic acid. Both of these ingredients are effective in treating mild acne.
Salicylic acid is particularly powerful when in cleansing face washes. It works by dissolving the keratin plugs which are blocking pores and causing spots. It also can remove excess oils from your skin.
Products containing benzoyl peroxide reduce the number of acne-causing bacteria. It clears the pores of dead skin cells, reducing the risk of plugged pores. Many topical creams contain benzoyl peroxide such as Acnecide gel or Differin cream.
Where can I buy Acne treatment from?
Our online pharmacy has a range of acne treatments available to order online.
Complete a free online consultation with one of our doctors who will prescribe you the most appropriate medication. Make sure you include all medication you are currently using, and any medical history to ensure the GP can prescribe you with the appropriate treatment.