Acne is such a common condition but can make people feel very miserable. There are two peaks of incidence-the teenage years but it can also can develop for the first time in people in their late twenties or even the thirties.

The typical appearance of acne is a mixture of the following: oily skin, blackheads and whiteheads, red spots, yellow pus-filled pimples, and scars. Occasionally, large tender spots or cysts may develop that can eventually burst and discharge their contents or may heal up without bursting.

If you have acne but have had no success with over-the-counter products then it is probably time for you to visit your doctor. In general, most treatments take two to four months to produce their maximum effect.

Acne treatments fall into the following categories:

  • Topical treatments, i.e. those that are applied directly to the skin
  • Oral antibiotics, i.e. tablets taken by mouth
  • Oral contraceptive pills
  • Isotretinoin capsules
  • Other treatments

General advice 

  • Try not to pick or squeeze your spots as this usually aggravates them and may cause scarring.
  • However your acne affects you, it is important to take action to control it as soon as it appears. This helps to avoid permanent scarring and reduces embarrassment. If your acne is mild it is worth trying over-the-counter preparations in the first instance. Your pharmacist will advise you.
  • Expect to use your treatments for at least two months before you see much improvement. Make sure that you understand how to use them correctly so you get the maximum benefit.
  • Some topical treatments may dry or irritate the skin when you start using them. If your face goes red and is irritated by a lotion or cream, stop treatment for a few days and try using the treatment less often and then building up gradually.
  • Make-up may help your confidence. Use products that are oil-free or water-based. Choose products that are labelled as being ‘non-comedogenic’ (should not cause blackheads or whiteheads) or non-acnegenic (should not cause acne).
  • Cleanse your skin and remove make-up with a mild soap or a gentle cleanser and water, or an oil-free soap substitute. Scrubbing too hard can irritate the skin and make your acne worse. Remember blackheads are not due to poor washing.
  • There is little evidence that any foods cause acne, such as chocolate and “fast foods”; however, your health will benefit overall from a balanced diet including fresh fruit and vegetables.


Dr Usmani will be happy to discuss any of the above treatments with you. Please contact her for a consultation.


Case study

“I went to see Dr Usmani last year for problems with my skin. I couldn’t understand why I was getting spots on my face. I’d used lots of different spot creams from the chemist but nothing seemed to be working. When I saw Dr Usmani I knew I’d come to the right place. I felt that most doctors felt that my problem wasn’t serious enough to treat but my skin was making me feel really rubbish and was affecting me in lots of ways. I didn’t want to hang out with my friends if I was having a flare and I felt embarrassed talking about it. She totally understood how I was feeling and spent time examining me and then talking about different treatments. She started me on an antibiotic tablet with a lotion too and my skin was so much better within 4 weeks. I was over the moon. It made me feel so much better. I’m off the antibiotic now and my skin is still doing pretty good. Thank you Dr Usmani!”