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Condition: Acne

What Is Acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that can occur when your hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells and oil. It is characterised by the presence of pimples, blackheads, and sometimes painful lesions. It can occur at any age and is influenced by hormonal fluctuations, genetic predisposition, and lifestyle choices.

Acne can have a psychological impact and cause emotional distress, often causing feelings of embarrassment or shame. Effective acne treatment is available and varies depending on the severity of the acne you are facing.

Identifying Different Acne Types​

Acne presents in various forms and is broadly classified into non-inflammatory and inflammatory lesions. Non-inflammatory acne includes comedones, which are closed whiteheads and open blackheads. On the other hand, inflammatory acne includes lesions such as papules, pustules, cysts, and nodules.
Closed comedones formed by trapped sebum and dead skin cells beneath the skin’s surface, appearing as small, white bumps.
Open comedones resulting from oxidised sebum and debris clogging pores, presenting as small dark spots on the skin surface.
Inflamed, raised lesions without pus, caused by blocked pores and bacterial growth, appearing as small, red bumps on the skin.

Inflamed, pus-filled lesions formed by infected pores, characterised by redness, swelling, and a visible white or yellow centre.


What Causes Acne?​

Multiple factors influence the formation and severity of acne. A key factor is the overproduction of sebum and the buildup of dead skin cells, which can lead to the clogging of hair follicles. This can result in the formation of acne lesions such as blackheads and whiteheads.

These clogged pores create a favourable setting for the proliferation of bacteria, particularly Propionibacterium acnes. This leads to inflammation, redness, and the development of pimples or acne. Hormonal fluctuations during particular stages of life can exacerbate this process by significantly increasing oil production.

Hormonal Fluctuations and Acne

  • puberty
  • menstrual cycles
  • pregnancy
  • menopause
  • testosterone treatment

Hormonal fluctuations can lead to an increase in sebum production by the sebaceous glands. This rise in sebum production results from hormonal imbalances that cause these grease-producing glands to generate a larger quantity of oil, known as abnormal sebum, exacerbating the propensity for acne development.

The Relationship Between Genetics And Acne?​

A genetic predisposition to acne often runs in families, visible as a family history of acne, particularly adult acne. In fact, children with both parents suffering from severe acne have an increased risk of experiencing acne, suggesting a strong genetic factor related to hormonal conditions or inflammatory responses.

The immune system’s ability to fight P. acnes bacteria, which contribute to developing acne, can also be influenced by genetic factors. Heritable hormonal conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which are known to run in families, can exacerbate acne development, including cystic acne.

Moreover, genetics play a role in determining the likelihood of follicles resisting acne into adulthood, emphasizing a hereditary aspect in acne persistency and resistance.

Acne Fact

Acne Facts

  • Acne affects about 95% of people aged 11 to 30 to some extent, according to the NHS.
  • Acne is not a dangerous condition, but moderate to severe acne can cause lasting scars. 
  • Acne can be treated with safe and effective treatments. 
  • Acne develops when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. This blockage creates an environment where bacteria can thrive, leading to inflammation and the formation of pimples, blackheads, and other lesions.
  • Acne can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life, leading to feelings of self-consciousness, low self-esteem, and even depression or anxiety.
Acne Fact

Acne Myths Vs The Truth​

Myth: Acne is caused by certain foods like chocolate or greasy foods.
There is a widespread belief that indulging in chocolate or greasy foods like french fries can lead to acne breakouts. However, scientific evidence does not support this claim.

Truth: High glycemic foods and sugars found in processed foods may contribute to acne.
While chocolate and greasy foods themselves may not directly cause acne, consuming high glycemic foods and sugars found in processed foods like milk chocolate can impact insulin levels and inflammation, potentially worsening acne symptoms.

Myth: Overwashing the face can cure acne.
Some individuals believe that frequent washing of the face can eliminate acne. However, overwashing can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to irritation and exacerbation of acne.

Truth: Overwashing can irritate the skin and worsen acne.
Contrary to the belief that overwashing can cure acne, excessive cleansing can disrupt the skin’s barrier function and aggravate acne symptoms. Gentle cleansing and a proper skincare routine are key to managing acne effectively.

Myth: Makeup causes acne.
Many people assume that wearing makeup is a direct cause of acne development. However, makeup itself is not inherently responsible for acne breakouts.

Truth: Using the wrong products or failing to remove makeup properly can lead to acne.
While makeup alone may not cause acne, using products that are not suitable for one’s skin type or failing to remove makeup thoroughly can clog pores and contribute to acne formation. Choosing non-comedogenic products and ensuring proper makeup removal are essential for preventing acne flare-ups.

Acne Lifestyle Tips

Lifestyle Tips To Help with Your Acne

Living a healthy lifestyle can improve mild to moderate acne.

  1. Maintain a balanced diet: Focus on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, while limiting high-glycemic foods and dairy.
  2. Stay hydrated: Drink enough water daily to keep your skin hydrated and healthy.
  3. Practice gentle hygiene: Wash your face twice daily with a mild cleanser and avoid harsh scrubbing.
  4. Avoid touching your face: Refrain from picking or touching acne lesions to prevent further irritation and scarring.
  5. Manage stress: Use stress-reduction techniques like meditation or yoga to minimize stress levels, which can aggravate acne.
Acne Lifestyle Tips

When And How To Treat Acne​

For mild cases of acne, several over-the-counter medications can be effective in managing symptoms and preventing further breakouts. These medications typically contain active ingredients that target acne-causing bacteria, unclog pores, and reduce inflammation. Here are some common mild medications used for at-home acne treatment:

1. Benzoyl Peroxide – Benzoyl peroxide is a topical medication available in various strengths (2.5%, 5%, or 10%) without a prescription. It works by killing acne-causing bacteria, reducing inflammation, and helping to unclog pores. Benzoyl peroxide is often found in cleansers, lotions, gels, and spot treatments. Start with a lower concentration to minimise the risk of irritation, and gradually increase if needed.

2. Salicylic Acid Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that helps exfoliate the skin, unclog pores, and reduce inflammation. It is commonly found in acne cleansers, toners, and spot treatments. Salicylic acid is particularly effective for treating blackheads and whiteheads. Start with a lower concentration (usually 0.5% to 2%) to avoid excessive dryness or irritation.

3. Sulfur Sulfur is another ingredient found in over-the-counter acne products, known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps reduce excess oil and unclog pores, making it effective for treating mild acne. Sulfur is often included in spot treatments, masks, and cleansers. It may have a distinct odour, but it can be an effective option for some individuals with acne-prone skin.

4. Tea Tree Oil Tea tree oil is a natural extract known for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help kill acne-causing bacteria and reduce inflammation associated with acne lesions. Tea tree oil is available in various concentrations and formulations, including pure oil, gels, creams, and spot treatments. It’s essential to dilute pure tea tree oil before applying it to the skin to avoid irritation.

When using these mild medications at home, it’s essential to follow the instructions provided on the product packaging and start with a lower concentration to minimise the risk of irritation. If you experience severe or persistent acne, consult a dermatologist for further evaluation and personalised treatment options.

If you experiencing severe or persistent acne, or if your acne worsens despite home treatment, it’s advisable to seek professional medical advice from a dermatologist for further evaluation and personalised treatment options.

Dermatologist Dr Crichlow

How Is Ance Treated At Our Clinic?

It’s essential to emphasise the importance of seeking guidance from a professional and highly qualified Dermatologist. Dr. Sharon Crichlow, our leading dermatologist specialising in acne treatment, has brought relief to hundreds of patients with her expertise and compassionate care.

Understanding that each individual responds uniquely to treatments, consulting with a dermatologist ensures personalised care. By receiving a thorough diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan designed specifically for your skin needs, you can effectively address acne with confidence and peace of mind.

Dermatologist Dr Crichlow

Before and After ACNE patients - Real Clients

Witness the impressive and life-changing results achieved by Dr. Sharon Crichlow’s patients. Under her expert care and guidance, countless individuals have experienced remarkable transformations in their skin health and confidence. 

From severe acne to stubborn blemishes, Dr. Crichlow’s tailored treatments have provided lasting solutions, restoring not only clear and radiant skin but also renewed self-assurance.

Treatments We Offer For Acne

Discover our comprehensive range of acne treatments, encompassing both medication and cutting-edge advanced technologies, tailored to address your unique skin care needs with precision and care.

What Our Customers Say About Us

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About Dr Sharon Crichlow


Dr. Crichlow is a highly qualified dermatologist with extensive training and experience in the field. She completed her dermatology training in 2008 and has since been recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC) as a specialist in dermatology, maintaining her position on the GMC Specialist Register since 2009. 

Dr. Crichlow’s personal experience as a lifelong acne sufferer fuels her commitment to providing exceptional care to her patients, recognising the profound impact dermatological conditions can have on one’s quality of life. Her areas of expertise include the comprehensive management of acne vulgaris and acne rosacea, as well as mild to moderate acne scarring. 

Frequently Asked Acne Questions

Acne is a common skin condition characterised by clogged hair follicles, resulting in the formation of pimples, blackheads, and sometimes painful lesions.

Acne is caused by a combination of factors, including the overproduction of sebum, buildup of dead skin cells, bacterial proliferation, hormonal fluctuations, and genetic predisposition.

Genetics play a significant role in acne development, with a family history of acne increasing the likelihood of experiencing the condition. Certain genetic factors can influence hormonal conditions and inflammatory responses, exacerbating acne.

Acne lesions can be broadly categorised into non-inflammatory (comedones) and inflammatory (papules, pustules, cysts, nodules) types.

While there is no conclusive evidence linking specific foods like chocolate or greasy foods directly to acne, high glycemic foods and sugars found in processed foods may contribute to acne development by impacting insulin levels and inflammation.

No, overwashing the face can actually irritate the skin and worsen acne symptoms. Gentle cleansing with a mild cleanser is recommended.

Mild acne can be managed with over-the-counter medications containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur, or tea tree oil. These medications help kill acne-causing bacteria, unclog pores, and reduce inflammation. However, for severe or persistent acne, professional medical advice is recommended.

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