As many of you know today is World Antibiotic Awareness Week. Am important topic for many of us. Indeed the World Health authority has put up a short online quiz asking “How much do you know about antibiotic resistance?”. You can take the test by dropping round here.
Keeping your skin clean is important, but will not prevent new spots developing. Wash the affected area twice a day with a mild soap or cleanser, but do not scrub the skin too hard to avoid irritating it.
If your skin is dry, use a moisturiser . Most of these are now tested so they don’t cause spots (non-comedogenic).
Although acne can’t be cured, it can be controlled with treatment. Several creams, lotions and gels for treating spots are available at pharmacies.
If you develop acne, it’s a good idea to speak to your pharmacist for advice. Products containing a low concentration of benzoyl peroxide may be recommended, but be careful as this can bleach clothing.
If your acne is severe or appears on your chest and back, it may need to be treated with antibiotics or stronger creams that are only available on prescription.
When to see your GP
See your GP if you cannot control your acne with over-the-counter medication or if it is causing you distress and making you feel unhappy.
Also see your GP if you develop nodules or cysts, as they will need to be treated properly to avoid scarring.
Treatments can take up to three months to work, so don’t expect results overnight. Once they do start to work, the results are usually good.
Acne is very common in teenagers and younger adults. About 80% of people between the ages of 11 and 30 will be affected by acne.
Acne is most common between the ages of 14 and 17 in girls, and boys between 16 and 19.
Most people have acne on and off for several years before their symptoms start to improve as they get older. Acne often disappears when a person is in their mid-twenties.
In some cases, acne can continue into adult life. About 5% of women and 1% of men have acne over the age of 25.
Despite being one of the most widespread skin conditions, acne is also one of the most poorly understood. There are many myths and misconceptions about it:
“Acne is caused by a poor diet.” So far, research has not found any foods that cause acne. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is recommended because it is good for your heart and your health in general.
“Acne is caused by having dirty skin and poor hygiene.” Most of the biological reactions that trigger acne occur beneath the skin, not on the surface, so the cleanliness of your skin will have no effect on your acne. Washing your face more than twice a day could just aggravate your skin.
“Squeezing blackheads, whiteheads and spots is the best way to get rid of acne.” This could actually make symptoms worse and may leave you with scarring.
“Sexual activity can influence acne.” Having sex or masturbating will not make acne any better or worse.
“Sunbathing, sunbeds and sunlamps help improve the symptoms of acne.” There is no conclusive evidence that prolonged exposure to sunlight or using sunbeds or sunlamps can improve acne. Many medications used to treat acne can make your skin more sensitive to light, so exposure could cause painful damage to your skin, not to mention increase your risk of skin cancer.
“Acne is infectious.” You cannot pass acne on to other people.
As a medical blogger and ex–healthcare researcher I have to spend a certain amount of time most days keeping up with trends in the area of medicine and wellness.
A lot of the time I ignore what I’m reading because of its over-sensationalist content which I think does not really improve anybody’s chance of better health if they are being terrified all the time.
But on this occasion I have been reading about a trend which I think it will be of value to share with my readers. In this case it is anti-microbial resistance or AMR. And it could well be a common part of our discussions about health in the years to come.
Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) is also referred to as drug resistance but that is not quite an accurate description in my view. It could be, perhaps, better explained by saying that certain types of bacteria are developing resistance to antibiotics.
As a side (well actually very relevant) issue this is not just about anti-biotics used by humans but also those used on animals as part of the agricultural process.
So what then is the problem? Well, according to Margaret Chan, chief of the World Health Organisation (WHO), it could put back medical advances by 80 years because those infections that could once have been fought by anti-biotics will now not be treatable. This could affect operations such as hip replacements through to an increased risk of tuberculosis.
So what can be done? This seems to me the million dollar (plus) question. And information does seem to be a bit confusing.
One doctor I spoke to a few weeks ago said that it was a question of everyone learning to complete their course of anti-biotics. On the other hand some have argued that it is our over-prescription of anti-biotics that causes the problem.
Another view holds that this is the very nature of medicine and different products outliving their usefulness if simply part of life. So maybe we just need a new generation of drugs.
But what may happen is rather more impressive. The next wave of drugs may go into the DNA of different bacteria and prevent them from becoming resistant to our medications.