Acne is a common inflammatory skin condition that affects most people at some point in their lives. It is caused by build of sebum (an oily secretion) in the pores of the skin, leading to inflammation and in some cases infection. Acne commonly affects the face, but can also affect the chest and back. If acne is mild and left untreated, it will usually clear on its own over time with minimal to no scarring. It is important to:
- Not over wash the face (twice a day is sufficient) as this can dry and irritate the skin.
- Use a mild soap or cleanser with lukewarm water.
- Not touch the face frequently as this leads to transfer of dirt and bacteria to the face .
- Not pick at and pop spots, as this can lead to pushing the infection deeper into the skin and lead to scarring which may be permanent.
- Avoid using cosmetic products unnecessarily and excessively, and to try to stick to non-comodogenic products (less likely to block pores in skin).
- Remove make up before sleeping.
- Avoid dry skin by using a water based, fragrance free emollient.
- Washing your hair regularly, and avoiding contact with your skin (as this can transfer oils onto your face)
There are numerous acne treatments available, and what works best for you might not work well for others. Treatments for acne can take a few weeks to a few month to work and come in:
- Topical Preperations
- Oral Preparations
We usually advise trialling simple topical preparations that contain Benzyl Peroxide, such as Acnecide (please see previous product page), and then moving up to combination topical preparations containing antibiotics or retinoids if not found to be beneficial. We do not advise using oral antibiotics until all topical preparation have been tried, due to the possibility of experiencing more troublesome side effects. You should never use oral antibiotics by themselves as this increases the risk of antibiotic resistance. This can be reduced by using a topical preparation containing benzyl peroxide and or a retinoid. You should not use oral antibiotics and topical preparations containing antibiotics together.
We advise the stepwise approach below to managing your acne.
Benzyl Peroxide topical treatment
- Acnecide (Benzyl peroxide) works in 3 ways:
- It kills bacteria
- Reduces inflammation
- Helps dry and unblock pores
If you see no difference in your skin after 6-8 weeks you should stop and move to step 2.
Topical Antibiotic OR Topical Retinoid
- Zineryt (Topical Antibiotic) contains the active ingredient, Erythromycin which belongs to a group of antibiotics called macrolides. It helps to eliminate acne forming bacteria on the skin, thereby reducing spots and inflammation. It comes as roll on, which can be particularly handy if your acne is affecting large areas such as the chest or back. For more information, please read the patient information leaflet here.
- Differin (Topical Retinoid) contains the active ingredient adapalene. Retinoids work by unclogging the pores of the skin, and preventing build up of dead skin cells and oil which can lead to bacterial growth and acne. They are derivatives of vitamin A and can be applied topically or taken orally (under specialist supervision only). For more information, please read the patient information leaflet here.
We advise to try one of the above for 6-8 weeks and if you do not see any benefit, to switch to the other preparation and try for 6-8 weeks. If both fail you can stop using the preparation and move onto step 3.
Combination topical preparation
There are 2 combination preparations we supply for acne:
- Duac (Antibiotic + Benzyl Peroxide) contains the antibiotic clindamycin and benzyl peroxide in 2 different strengths (3% and 5%). It has a dual action, fighting bacteria on the skin which can lead to acne as well as helping to unblock pores. For more information click here.
- Epiduo (Retinoid + Benzyl Peroxide) contains the retinoid adapalene and benzoyl peroxide. It also has a dual action, fighting bacteria on the skin as well as unblocking pores. For more information click here.
As with STEP 2, we recommend using one for 6-8 weeks and switching to the other if you do not see any benefit.
- Lymecycline (Brand name Tetralysal) is a tetracycline type antibiotic commonly use to treat acne. It works by reducing acne forming bacteria found on the skin. It comes in a capsule form and is taken once a day for up to 3 months. After 3 months, the treatment should be stopped as continuous use beyond this period can lead to antibiotic resistance. To learn more about antibiotic resistance and its risks please click here.
Step 4 should always be used in combination with a topical treatment, such as benzyl peroxide (Acnecide), adapalene (Differin Cream/Gel) or both (Epiduo) as this helps prevent the development of resistant bacteria. It should NOT be used with any other antibiotic containing preparation (Zineryt & Duac).