Oh no, acne! Here’s how to deal with it

Posted on 12 July 2016

Acne is a common and usually treatable skin condition that affects most people at some stage of life. Dermatologist Dr Dilshaad Asmal of Mediclinic Cape Town shares her advice for dealing with acne – and debunks some myths.

Acne frequently starts during the teen years and will either disappear or persist into adulthood. Fortunately there are treatments available, and if you suffer from severe acne that doesn’t respond to over-the counter medications you should consult a dermatologist. There is no overnight cure, but Dr Asmal recommends these basic tips:

• Gently wash the affected areas with a mild, non-drying cleanser once or twice a day and also after exercising. Vigorous washing and scrubbing can irritate the skin and make acne worse.
• Use non-comedogenic, oil-free cosmetics, toiletries and sunscreen.
• Avoid toners, exfoliants and astringents, which may dry out the skin. Choose cleansers with benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.
• To prevent scars, don’t pop, squeeze or pick pimples. This can worsen the acne by leading to a rupture of that lesion into your skin, which could cause more inflammation and deep-seated nodules that result in scarring.

Acne myths: true or false?
Only teenagers get acne.
Acne commonly occurs in teenagers, but adult-onset acne occurs in 30-40% of adults and is much more common in females than males.

Acne can be cured.
There is no cure for acne. It’s a chronic skin condition and continued treatment is often necessary to control it and keep the skin acne-free. Treatments such as roaccutane (isotretinoin) may lead to long-term remission of the condition or prolonged periods of being acne-free.

Acne is caused by dirty skin.
Acne is not caused by dirt or uncleanliness. The bacteria that causes acne live in the pores, not on the surface of the skin. This is why over-washing and scrubbing the skin can worsen acne by leading to irritation and more inflammation.

Drinking lots of water improves acne.
There’s no evidence to suggest drinking more than the recommended amount of water improves acne. However, drinking water regularly during the day to stay hydrated is a good habit to cultivate.

Toothpaste will dry out a pimple.
In fact, says Dr Asmal, ‘Toothpaste irritates the skin, causing redness and peeling. It does not dry out pimples!’

Wearing a fringe causes acne on the forehead.
A fringe does not cause acne, but you should wash your hair regularly.


Published in Dermatology

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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One Response to “Oh no, acne! Here’s how to deal with it”

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