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Ask the Pharmacist - Acne Part 1

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Acne is a disorder of skin glands that produce a natural oil (Sebum). The face, neck, shoulders, upper chest and back are most frequently affected. It affects more than one in two young adults at some stage, usually beginning at puberty and clearing completely before the mid-twenties. However, in many adolescents, acne clears within a year or two. The characteristic white-heads and black-heads are caused by over-production of sebum, leading to a blockage of skin pores with a mixture of dead skin cells and oil. Bacteria on the skin surface intensify the problem by producing chemicals that inflame and irritate the skin. Diet has little influence on acne. In spite of what is commonly believed, sugary foods and fatty foods, such as chocolate and chips, have not been proven to contribute to acne. Treatment can take between 2 to 3 months to get the full benefits but is worth it.


Whiteheads and blackheads

Whiteheads are small clogged pores that occur just below the surface of the skin. Blackheads are similar to whiteheads but they are open to the air, the black colour occurs due to the air oxidizing with the sebum and keratin in our skin. If you attempt to squeeze these yourself, they can get irritated and inflamed and cause a little red bump on the skin known as a papule. Papules are generally what most people would get especially around the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin). If healthy bacteria on our skin finds its’ way into these little papules it can fill with pus to develop a defined white or yellow head on the surface called a pustule.


More pronounced lumps

Cysts and nodules are large painful lumps underneath the skin which can take weeks to heal. The only difference between the two is that nodules are hard and don’t have an obvious white/yellow head where cysts are fluid filled with a defined white or yellow head. Do not to squeeze these as they will leave you with a scar and possibly spread to surrounding pores.


Most cases of mild acne will be helped by washing affected areas twice daily, avoiding food stuffs that they themselves feel worsen the problem, and spend more time in the sun during summer. Girls should be careful to avoid greasy cosmetic products. Next week I will discuss treatment options.


Free acne skincare consultation at our acne clinic

May is acne awareness month at Whelehans Pharmacy we are offering free acne skincare consultations at our Acne Clinic with skincare expert Trish Wallace. Learn how to remove dead cells and impurities, unclog pores and reduce redness and blemishes. Whelehans offer a range of effective products that give clearer skin in a safe and effective way. Book your free appointment; call Whelehans at 04493 34591 to discover clearer skin.


To be continued….next week I discuss treatment of more severe acne.


Products mentioned here are available in Whelehans.


Thanks to Trish Wallace, skincare consultant at Whelehans Pharmacy and the HSE and NHS for input into this article

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