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Acne tends to start at puberty and leads to greasy skin and ‘spots’. People may feel bad about themselves because of the way their skin looks, often at a time when they’re already vulnerable.

Acne is caused by inflamed skin glands on your face and upper trunk, sometimes caused through an infection. In rare cases, acne may be caused by an underlying medical condition.

It’s a myth that stress or certain foods (such as chocolate) cause acne – and acne is certainly not due to a lack of cleanliness! Acne is a long-term condition that may need immediate treatment for treating severely affected skin, and maintenance therapy to keep spots from recurring.

In seven out of 10 people, acne stops within five years – but some people may suffer lifelong.

Acne can vary from being mild and localised to severe and widespread. So what can you do to get better?

  • Wash your face only once or twice a day with lukewarm water. Avoid strong or abrasive soaps and excessive scrubbing. Be aware that hot water and rough flannels can make symptoms worse rather than better.
  • No matter how tempting, try not to squeeze spots, as this may cause scarring.
  • Effective treatments are available to reduce and improve spots. They can also prevent or reduce scarring if started early. Ask your pharmacist for advice on available preparations.
  • You need to continue treatment for at least six weeks before seeing any changes. If a treatment is effective, continue for at least four to six months. You may need to try different preparations until you find one that suits you. Some treatments may irritate your skin initially, so seek advice from your pharmacist if this is the case.

Seek medical advice if your symptoms signs include:

  • Severity - Your acne is really bad and you feel physically unwell because of it
  • You develop painful spots that feel ‘deep’ in your skin.
  • You get distressed by your acne, and/or it affects your social life.
  • You notice the beginning of scarring despite treatment.
  • You suspect that you may have an underlying medical condition that causes your acne – for example, if you have additional symptoms such as infrequent or absent periods, excessive hair growth, or hair loss

More information can be found on the NHS website: