Keeping acne at bay

One of the most common conditions among tweens and teens is acne, which can be annoying at best and debilitating at worst. This month, we delve into the pimply world to find out what acne is, the common causes and the best way to manage pimples when they appear.

According to the Better Health Channel, acne is caused by inflammation of the hair follicles, and affects the face, back and chest. It comes in a variety of forms, including blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and cysts.

Community Pharmacist and Master Herbalist Gerald Quigley describes acne as a “skin disorder of the fat cells in your skin”.

“It can be hormonal – an interaction between hormones and oils in your skin and bacteria, where the hair follicle becomes inflamed,” he said, adding that it can be marked by “pus-filled and very painful” bumps.

“In girls, acne can often be period-related, because it’s hormone driven. In boys, as their testosterone develops, they’ll often get more pimples as well.

“Acne in teenagers can be emotionally really draining, where … they don’t feel right, their friends [may] make fun of them and that adds to their stress … so, acne should never be ignored.”

Skin care routine

One of the most effective ways to manage acne is with an adequate skin care routine, according to Mr Quigley.

“It’s about maintaining the [skin barrier],” he says. “Cleansing effectively [and] moisturising with an oil-free moisturiser as well [is important].

“Avoid greasy makeup, because all that does is block pores, which adds to the problem.

“And avoid popping pimples, because that can cause scarring.”

Diet and acne

Various causes contribute to acne, but Fertility and Prenatal Dietitian Melanie McGrice advises that diet has a role to play.

“Excessive intake of high glycaemic index foods and saturated fats tend to increase inflammation, which increases acne,” she says.

“Hormonal fluctuations are a key cause for acne in tweens and teens. However, diet has a significant impact on hormonal fluctuations.”

Mr Quigley agrees that “food does play a role in whether acne develops to a great extent or not”.

“We know that if you can avoid saturated fats, processed foods and refined sugars, your risks of acne outbreak will be much less,” he says.

“So, just [eat] as simple food options as possible … like eggs, oily fish, avocado, mushrooms, apricots, fresh fruit and vegetables … All those things help with the basic minerals that our skin needs to thrive.

Medical intervention

While looking after your skin and eating well is important in the management of acne, Mr Quigley says that for severe cases of acne, medical intervention is required to prevent infection and scarring.

“Usually that person is treated by the doctor with an antibiotic,” he says. “In extreme cases, kids get referred to a dermatologist for the more serious treatments.”

To read the full feature as it appears in this month’s issue of Retail Pharmacy Assistants magazine, visit: