Just when you thought you’d left spots behind as a teenager, they can return to haunt you as an adult. Sarah Thomas reports on the problem of acne, and how to solve it.
As a teenager I lived in horror of things going bump in the night.
Or more accurately, I dreaded waking up to find that a new zit had nestled underneath my nostrils or bang-smack on my cheekbone.
Of course, I reached for the Clearasil and cotton wool, and tried to cover up the calamity with a bit of concealer and foundation.
However, it was a problem that was a case of ever decreasing circles: I zapped one spot to find another had taken its place.
Luckily, they did go away and I have enjoyed a blemish-free existence since; I’m happy to say.
Until last week. Now, I’m noticing a couple of zits, and the memories have come flooding back.
Those of being called ‘Pizza Face’; the recall of which has run deeper than a dose of TCP into the offending apparition.
Of course, my new spot could be an allergic reaction to a new serum or moisturiser.
But acne is caused when tiny holes in the skin, known as hair follicles, become blocked.
More than 80 per cent of adult acne sufferers are women, and the problem can take root as a result of pregnancy, periods, and polycystic ovary syndrome (the formation of small cysts inside the ovary).
So where did my two new spots come from?
According to the UK’s NHS Website, triggers include some medications (such as anti-depressants), wearing items that put pressure on the skin, smoking, or some (I knew it!) cosmetic products.
Acne is not caused by poor diet, dirty skin, or prolonged exposure to sun rays.
It can be caused by hormone imbalances, stress, pollution, and washing and cleansing too often and too intensely.
Well, I’ve given a couple of new face creams a body swerve this week, and simply stuck to soap and water.
It looks like I’m on track. The ever-reliable Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, US, says that washing your face with a gentle cleanser to remove excess oil is a good start.
From there, it’s a matter of talking to your pharmacist and buying an over-the-counter product such as a cleanser containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
If you feel like persevering at home before it gets to that stage, then go down the natural route.
Home remedies include moisturising with aloe vera or applying diluted tea tree oil to your face twice a day.
Other methods include applying green tea, witch hazel, or even apple cider vinegar to your face.
While these might take a couple of days for your pimples to recede, you’ll want to cover it up.
For this, you can apply a hot washcloth or a warm compress to the spot, put a cold cucumber or a block of ice on it to reduce inflammation, or put on some sunscreen with zinc oxide.
Of course, prolonged and extreme acne is a problem that will mean a visit to your doctor, who will prescribe creams or gels, oral medications, or a mild cleanser. He may also refer you to a dermatologist.
From there, cosmetic surgery may be required to remove permanent scars caused by the problem.
That’s not my purpose here; it’s simply to keep those pimples at bay and ensure that my daughter knows what to do when it’s her turn.
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please seek the advice of a medical expert if you have any questions regarding a health issue.
(Sources:NHS UK, The Mayo Clinic, Healthline, Self)