Acne: 10 great tips will change your life | Dr Anastasia Therianou MD, PhD

Acne: 10 great tips will change your life

22 Nov 2021

What is Acne?

Acne is a common skin condition where comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) and pus-filled pimples (pustules) cover various parts of the body (face, upper chest, back, under arms, and/or buttocks).

The face and trunk are the most common affected areas. In the past it was thought that acne appears only in teens and young adults. Nowadays we know that it can also affect older age groups. 1 in 5 women between the ages of 25 and 40 have breakouts.

Acne is a result of sebaceous glands becoming over productive, so they produce more sebum than usual and the pores become clogged with oil and dead skin, creating the unsightly red bumps.

Acne can vary from a few spots on the face to severe, deep spots (cysts) which cause pain and scarring.

For many individuals, mild acne can be treated with topical, over-the-counter products such as creams and gels, and the acne will subside in their mid-20s.

Many more though will need creams under prescription or even tablets to get rid of it. When acne develops in mid-to-late 20s and even 30s, triggers can be lifestyle changes, hormonal changes, stress, and/or pregnancy (in women).

Myths and facts about acne


It is true that genetics play a role. Your DNA controls how much keratin your skin produces and how large and productive your sebaceous glands are. This is why acne often runs in families.

Sebaceous glands are also more concentrated in the skin on your face, chest, and back. This is why these are the areas where acne most often appears.


A popular myth about acne is that makeup causes acne. The truth is, if makeup isn’t properly removed, that can result in acne.

Wearing non-oily cosmetic products, wearing non-comedogenic makeup (makeup which doesn’t clog pores), and always properly cleansing the skin free of make-up help the skin to not have acne.

People with pimples should never put any products which contain any types of oil on their face.


Acne is not caused by dirty skin. Actually, if skin is overly washed or scrubbed too hard, this may fracture the skin, resulting in acne.


Certain medications may also cause the skin to break out, for example, the use of steroids. Also, hormone replacement therapy for women and steroids that are taken to increase physical performance and build muscle, can also have the same effect on the skin’s oil glands, as can some progesterone based contraceptive medications.


Consuming certain food like chips or burgers and generally, greasy food may worsen the acne. The small studies that have been conducted to look at the effect of a low-glycemic diet on acne suggest that a low-glycemic diet may be helpful.

This happens because when your blood sugar is high, it causes inflammation everywhere on body, so the skin it is also affected.

More studies though are needed to confirm all these. Moreover dairy products, for instance cow’s milk (whole and low-fat), which is a low – glycemic product, found to be associated with acne only in some patients, so it is important to look at the history of each individual.
There is no evidence that cheese or yogurt can worsen the spots.


Stress does not cause acne, but if you have acne already, stress may make it worse. There is anecdotal and observational evidence (meaning that it has not yet been confirmed in rigorous scientific studies) that suggests that stress can influence an acne outbreak.There is no evidence that cheese or yogurt can worsen the spots.


Rubbing, caused by tight clothing and repetitive pressure can also cause acne. For example, if you work out and wear a tight bra, this can block hair follicles and create a warm, moist environment for bacteria to multiply in.
This combination of blocked hair follicles and multiplying bacteria can lead to acne forming. This type of acne also called ‘sports acne’, is common amongst athletes due to the repetitive heat, sweat, and friction that their skin is exposed to.

Top tips & treatment

[ 1 ]

Over-the-counter products with ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid can help with acne. Stick to a skincare routine with ingredients and products which are designed to treat acne. Use a cleanser and oil-free moisturizer. Spot treatments can also assist with reducing breakouts. No matter if your skin is oily, you still need to use a moisturiser preferably cream or gel, as it improves the skin barrier which subsequently helps with pimples.

[ 2 ]

Always use oil-free products on your face, for instance oil-free foundation.

[ 3 ]

Ingredients such as retinoids which can be found in various skincare products can also help diminish the size of pimples and can fade acne scars. Be careful to start from lower percentage and increase slowly the percentage to avoid burning, flaking and redness.

[ 4 ]

Life style changes such as quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, wearing sunscreen, drinking water, showering daily, and properly removing make-up all are essential in making acne go away.

[ 5 ]

Never exercise with makeup on. Also, if you have spots on your back, always have a shower straight after your work out or change t-shirt if a shower is not an immediate option. (You are at the park for example). Sweat can block the pores more and worsens the acne.

[ 6 ]

Therapies with blue light treatment and chemical peels (glycolic or salicylic acid) can assist with light acne.
At-home peels and chemical exfoliants with AHAs and BHAs are also effective in treating acne. BHAs are more effective for acne while AHAs have a more anti ageing effect. Avoid physical exfoliators such as scrubs as it is likely to be harsh for your skin.

[ 7 ]

Topical antibiotics can also be used to kill the excess bacteria which cause acne (P.Acnes). Antibiotics are also helpful in reducing the redness in the skin and any inflammation. Oral antibiotics are also an option for those with severe acne.

[ 8 ]

In certain cases, a steroid injection may be required for deep, cystic acne lesions in order to promote rapid skin healing and to decrease the pain.

[ 9 ]

Try not to pick, squeeze, or irritate your acne with your fingernails, or with other tools. Acne should be treated with medication and with the instructions of your doctor. If you pick them, you increase the risk of permanent scar at a later stage.

[ 10 ]

If your acne does not improve after the above tips, consult with a qualified dermatologist for a treatment plan which is best for you, your skin type, and needs.

If you have acne which is not improving with over-the-counter products or the medication prescribed by your GP, don’t worry. The good news is that you don’t have to live with acne. Today every case of acne can be treated successfully, even remotely! You can now arrange a video consultation with a UK qualified Consultant Dermatologist. Contact Dr Anastasia ‘s Therianou dermatology clinic by phone: 02038695134 or 02034684884 or by sending an email to

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