Category Archives: Acne

Blog topics which relate to all things acne including background information, causation and treatments.

Acne Treatment

Acne Fighting Treatments

For those of us that deal with acne, it can be hard to pin down a skin routine/treatment plan that is effective. There are a lot of options out there and figuring out what works for you and your skin issues may feel like a mammoth task. You may find yourself asking, is oil-free the way to go? Would a chemical exfoliant be too harsh? Is it my hormones? Fear not though, we are in this together. So, today we are going to break down some of the available acne-fighting options and how they may or may not be what you need to treat your own acne. Less conventional and other physical treatments such as chemical peels, lasers and in-clinic treatments are not discussed in this article.


Some of the main contributors to acne is our skin producing excess oils (sebum), dead skin clogging pores, inflammation caused by bacteria, and imbalanced hormones. Therefore, the ingredients used to treat acne help combat those risk factors. These treatments can be applied topically, meaning it goes directly on the surface of your body in a specific area, or orally, which means by mouth with ingestion. While the treatments in this article are mainly topical, know that there may be cases where oral acne treatment makes more sense. That decision will be something for you and your dermatologist to work out.

Acne treatment creams


Acne treatments for oil production and exfoliation

When dealing with mild acne, looking for treatments that are aimed at reducing oil and banishing dead skin is a good first step. Below is a list of ingredients that do just that.


Salicylic Acid

A beta hydroxy acid or BHA, as some may refer to it. This acid is a go-to ingredient commonly found in products that are used for treating acne because its main function is to dissolve excess oil and shed away dead skin layers aka exfoliate. It is very important to pay attention to the levels of this BHA that are being used; too low a concentration and can be ineffective used alone and too high a concentration can be damaging to our skin. Also, this ingredient can help decrease the inflammation that makes acne stand out so much on our skin.


Glycolic Acid

An alpha hydroxy acid or AHA for short. This acid has similar functions to the beta form. You can think of glycolic acid as salicylic acid’s younger sibling who wants to be in all the same extracurriculars. Glycolic acid is considered a top tier ingredient for exfoliating skin. Not only will this ingredient shed skin layers, but it can help fade acne marks that pesky pimples have left behind. Be careful though, because this ingredient has been known to irritate skin more easily than BHAs.



If you can get past the strong rotten egg smell, sulfur has some great acne-fighting benefits. This chemical ingredient is mainly an exfoliant helping to remove dead skin layers – out with the old, in with the new. In addition, sulfur can kill bacteria and reduce the amount of oil in our skin. Best of all, sulfur is safe for daily use!


Retinoids creams

You may recognize this ingredient by its more common alias, Vitamin A. This ingredient can actually occur in our bodies naturally, but it is also used in a more concentrated form for skincare.  Similar to the others listed, this ingredient encourages dead skin to not overstay its welcome. Retinol is great for reducing oil and helping pores stay unclogged as well.



Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 and is also known as Nicotinamide.   Niacinamide is a very important component of acne treatment.  It works to battle acne primarily by reducing inflammation and controlling oil production. There are many other benefits of niacinamide including reducing pigmentation, minimising sun-damage and helping with the barier function of the skin.  Our favourites are The Skincare Company Vitamin B3 and Propaira Skin Defence.


Oral retinoids

When acne is more severe or cystic and leaving behind scars, stronger acne treatments may be required. Oral retinoids help reduce oil in our skin when some other acne-treating ingredients may not be as effective. These are prescribed by dermatologists only in certain cases.


Acne treatments for fighting bacteria

For those of us who may feel our oil levels are under control but continue to have acne breakouts, we may need to look into ingredients that target acne-causing bacteria as well. So, the treatments below speak to that.


Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide is a topical treatment that is great for targeted use on skin. While this ingredient does help minimise oil and shed skin cells, its main claim to fame is killing the bacteria that gets trapped in our pores.



People take antibiotics for a lot of reasons and sometimes bad acne is one of those reasons. Antibiotics are a type of medication specifically designed to go after bacteria by killing them or stopping their growth. You and your dermatologist may decide that this treatment is the best way to help your skin and that is perfectly okay.


Acne treatments for hormone control

Sorry men, this one is for the ladies.  Sometimes, there is a clear hormonal pattern to acne which is well worth targeting.  If you fall into this category it may be worthwhile discussing with your GP or dermatologist whether conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome needs to be considered.  In either case, below are some treatments that may help with hormonal acne.


Birth Control

This acne treatment can be used when acne breakouts (mild or severe) are brought on by the hormone changes that happen around a woman’s period. The ingredients in birth control can help reduce androgens, which are the sex hormones your body produces that get you through puberty. These hormones can greatly increase the amount of oil your body produces, which can result in acne-prone skin. But beware, some birth control pills are ineffective for acne whilst others can make it worse!


Anti-androgenic tablets

You may not have known, but besides birth control pills, there are other types of anti-hormonal tablets that can be used to treat acne. Just another thing to have a chat to your dermatologist or GP about!

Acne treatment tablets

Other treatments

Other treatments that can help take care of our acne-prone skin include niacinamide (Vitamin B3) used topically (directly on your skin) and azelaic acid.  Both these creams have the additional benefit of fighting against pigmentation that can occur in darker skin types once a pimple goes away. Talk about being multiskilled!


Seeking acne treatment

Although we addressed each of these treatments/ingredients in an isolated manner, a lot of the time these ingredients can be used alongside each other if you have multiple acne symptoms that you need to be addressed. That stated, you must be careful because some of these ingredients should never be used together because they can interact negatively within our bodies. Please always consult a pharmacist, dermatologist or GP before making any treatment decisions about acne.


The information presented on this website is for general information and example purposes only, does not contain health advice specific for users and must not be relied on for that purpose.  Please see your GP, dermatologist or other health care professional for specific advice.

adult male acne

Adult Acne vs. Teen Acne

While getting acne in your teens may seem like an inevitability, you will be happy to know that it is not one of life’s guarantees. In fact, some teenagers and young adults (those aged 12-24) may not experience acne at all in their formative years – around 15% to be exact. That stated, those of us who don’t develop acne in our teens or young adulthood are not completely off the hook. In fact, we can actually still experience adult acne. Today, we are going to dive into what exactly adult acne is, and whether there are notable differences between acne during those precious teen years and adulthood.


However, before we can address acne in teenagers, we must discuss something that is an actual inevitability, puberty.

Acne puberty



Puberty and acne in your teens


Puberty is a process of changes that happens inside everyone’s body that can affect our outward appearance when we begin to mature out of childhood.


For girls, puberty usually happens between the ages of 10 and 14, while it can occur between the ages of 12 and 16 for boys. A key bodily change that happens during puberty, which can affect our skin, is an increase in androgens or female/male hormones. Androgens play a large role in our bodies development and as a result can make our skin’s oil glands larger while increasing their oil production.


Since some of the main contributing factors to acne is excess oil production, hormones, and stress; it makes sense that we are more likely to deal with breakouts as teens and during puberty. Being a teenager can be a stressful time; throw hormones and enlarged oil producing pores into the mix, and you have a perfect storm for acne to make its debut.


In addition to the puberty hormones, other things like sweat, cosmetics, or friction from your pillowcase/clothes can all contribute to acne forming on your skin. Don’t fret though, because millions of people deal with acne each year and there are treatment options available if your acne is more severe.

Cleansing face with acne




Adult acne


For those of us who thought we made it safely to the other side of adolescence acne-free, mother nature decided to throw us a curveball in the form of adult acne.


Adult acne, which is defined as acne that develops after the age of 25, can be a continuation of the acne we experience in adolescence or it can be brand new for those of us who did not have acne-prone skin as teens. While it may be frustrating to suddenly develop (or continue) acne breakouts as you start your descent into adulthood, there is information out there to help you help your skin.


Causes for adult acne


You may or may not find it reassuring that the same factors that can cause acne in our teens/young adulthood are responsible for acne in adulthood as well. The main sources being excess oil production, dead skin cells clogging pores, bacteria/inflammation, and hormones.


However, the list above is not exhaustive and there are certainly other things that could be creating the ideal environment for pimples on our skin.


Additional risk factors for adult acne include;

  • Poor diet
  • Stress
  • Menstrual cycles in women
  • Hair/skin products, and
  • Medications that we might be taking

It may seem overwhelming that there are so many variables affecting our skin’s health, but there are also solutions to help keep adult acne in check.


Stress and acne



Acne prevention/treatment for teens and adults


As you can see above, there is not a huge amount of difference in how our skin behaves with teenage acne versus adult acne. The main point of separation between adult and teen acne is that puberty hormones play a larger role in causing our skin to change, but the resulting acne fares the same. Therefore, the methods for treatment overlaps as well. Here we offer some tips for prevention and treatment of both adult and teen acne.



When it comes to our skin, sometimes the best defence is a good offence. What we mean by this adage is that taking steps for prevention can be a big help with our skincare. So, things like face washing with the right cleanser, thorough make-up removal with a non-comedogenic product and using oil free/non-pore-clogging products can improve our skin before we even begin treating it.



In terms of treatment, there are topical therapies that can be picked up at a pharmacy such as Skin Plus Compounding Pharmacy, which may be sufficient to help improve skin issues for many. However, if you find that the over-the-counter treatments are not doing the job, you can always reach out to a dermatologist. Dermatologists are medically trained to help diagnose and treat skin issues. They can work with you to define the severity of your acne and create a personalised treatment plan.


The information presented on this website is for general information and example purposes only, does not contain health advice specific for users and must not be relied on for that purpose.  Please see your GP, dermatologist or other health care professional for specific advice.

Acne 101

At some point in roughly 85% our lives, we are going to wake up and spot an unwelcome visitor on our skin in the form of a pimple. Whether you feel it coming or it pops up as a complete surprise (pun intended), having a pimple is the symptom of one the most common skin conditions, acne.

People throw around the word acne a lot, but have you ever wondered what exactly is happening on our skin that causes those pesky pimples to arrive? In this article we are going to talk a little bit about what acne is, where it comes from and options there are for treatment.

What is acne? 

The formation of pimples has a lot to do with our pores, which are the tiny holes seen on our skin that connect to oil producing glands deeper in the skin. A gland is a fancy term for an organ in our body that releases certain chemicals/substances for specific uses. The glands connected to our pores, produce an oily substance called sebum that protects and moisturises our skin.


Now, to get the sebum from our glands up to the skin’s surface, the body uses hair follicles as a pathway. Inside our follicles, the sebum oil will also carry dead skin cells to the skin’s surface to be shed off. However, sometimes the hair inside the follicle, dead skin cells, and sebum oil will get stuck together and become plugged up underneath our skin. Then, bacteria grow, which causes the plug to swell and eventually break down. The plug breaking down from all this commotion under our skin is what causes a pimple to develop.


What causes acne?

There are a few factors that can contribute to our bodies having acne breakouts. Three of the four main factors were listed above, which are;

  • hair follicles being clogged by oil and dead skin cells
  • an over-production of oil
  • bacteria growing in our pores.

The last main factor is our hormones – these are chemicals in our body that help with managing behaviour and mood.


Other risk factors for acne include;

  • our family history (genetics)
  • stress, causing hormonal changes and
  • pore clogging creams, makeup and oils

What types of acne are there?

The word pimple is often used as a catchall phrase, but the pimples we experience with acne can actually be categorised by type. The type of acne we have is based on how the plugged-up follicle behaves on or under our skin. Each type is listed below:


  • Whiteheads: the plugged pore is closed and the pimple stays under the surface of the skin
  • Blackheads: the plugged pore is open and the pimple rises to the skin’s surface and appears black
  • Papules: small red or pink bumps that are typically tender
  • Pustules: papules that are red at the bottom and have pus at the top
  • Nodules: solid, large, and painful pimples that are deep within the skin
  • Cysts: deep, painful, pus-filled lumps that are beneath the skin’s surface; typically cause scarring.

In addition, acne is not limited to just showing up on our faces. Pretty much anywhere we have pores is fair game for acne. That stated, acne will typically appear on our face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders.

Acne types

Who can get acne?

Now that you are intimately familiar with what causes acne and how to classify pimples, you may be interested in who is susceptible to acne’s pore plugging agenda. Well, the answer is everyone, even babies!


While acne does not discriminate, teens and young adults are the age group that is most commonly dealing with acne and its symptoms. It is estimated that 80% of people between the age of 11 and 30 will deal with acne breakouts at some point in their lives.


How can acne be treated?

Acne is usually not a cause for serious concern in terms of overall health and there are many products available to help keep breakouts at bay in your local pharmacy.


However, if you find that the over-the-counter treatments are not doing the job, it may be time to reach out to a GP or dermatologist. Dermatologists are medically trained skin specialists who diagnose and treat skin issues. They can work with you to define the severity of your acne and create a treatment plan.


The information presented on this website is for general information and example purposes only, does not contain health advice specific for users and must not be relied on for that purpose.  Please see your GP, dermatologist or other health care professional for specific advice.