Acne cannot be 'caught' or transmitted from one person to another. Touching a pimple and then touching someone else on the skin will not increase their chances of forming a pimple.
Acne happens when the oil glands (pores) in the skin become blocked. Hormones make the oil glands produce more oil (sebum) and if the pores are blocked, a build-up occurs and you've got acne. It is not caused by poor hygiene, however keeping your skin clean will help acne.
Your face, neck, chest, shoulders and upper back are most likely to be affected by acne because they have the highest number of oil glands.
Acne usually starts at puberty when increased levels of sex hormones (known as androgens) create an increase in the size and oil production of glands. Androgens are male hormones and are the same hormones that stimulate the growth of facial hair, muscle development and other distinctly male characteristics. You may have a higher chance of developing acne if other people in your family have had it too.
Steroids won't cause acne
Stressful times can lead to breakouts
It’s not always a quick fix, but don’t give up hope!
Everyone wants to get rid of their acne as quickly as possible which is why the quick fix sounds so appealing. The reality is treating acne takes time and patience. In mild cases that may mean a week but for more severe forms of acne, it can take a few months. The upside is you'll see results along on the way.
Treating acne starts with good skin care. Cleanse your skin twice a day with a mild ‘soap free’ liquid face cleanser that is acid and/or pH balanced and free of abrasives and alcohol. Skin care products with ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can be effective for mild acne and you don’t usually need a prescription. There are many safe and effective acne treatments. You'll need to speak with a healthcare professional to determine which one is most appropriate for you.
Treatments using retinoids can be very effective at unblocking pores of acne spots and preventing new blockages from developing. Retinoids come from Vitamin A. They are available as topical or oral treatments. A combination retinoid plus benzoyl peroxide (Epiduo®) is another option.
Antibiotics that treat acne come in two different forms – topical (applied directly to skin) or oral (swallowed in tablet form). Both types reduce the acne-causing bacteria in the skin and have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Oral antibiotics are generally used when acne is moderate to severe. They can be used on their own or with a topical treatment.
Isotretinoin tablets are the most effective treatment for severe acne as they address all known causes of severe cystic acne. They work by unblocking and preventing further blockage of pores, reducing sebum or oil production and soothing the redness and inflammation of acne.
Light therapy may be used to treat mild to moderate acne with biophotonic therapy working best on inflammatory acne.
Some low dose, very low dose oestrogen and anti-androgen contraceptive pills can help some women to manage their acne by regulating their hormones.
Diet and exercise
If you have acne, it’s another reason to limit high GI foods to occasional treats.
Low GI foods include wholegrain bread, cereals, fruits and vegetables as well as protein-rich foods like fish, beef, lamb, nuts and legumes.
Processed and refined foods including white bread, biscuits and sweets have a high GI, which means they cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. This triggers the production of hormones such as insulin, which we now believe can make acne worse.
Exercising for healthy skin
The importance of exercise in helping to maintain healthy skin is much less controversial than diet.
Most of us are aware of the need to exercise daily as a means to improve or maintain our overall wellbeing, including healthy skin. A good goal to aim for is 30 minutes a day.
Exercise not only burns up kilojoules to help you lose weight or maintain your ideal weight but it reduces insulin output, which can contribute to acne. Exercise can also help to reduce stress – another cause for acne breakouts.
However, sweat from exercise can irritate the skin, so it’s a good idea to wash your face after a workout.