• Dr Kalli Nikolaidou
  • Highly Qualified Doctor
  • Dermatology Expert
  • Harley Street Location
CLICK TO CALL US020 7030 3834


Give a solution to your acne prone skin

Make breakouts a thing of the past.

Acne can be helped with

Acne is a common skin condition that affects most people at some point. It is very common in teenagers and younger adults. About 80% of people aged 11 to 30 are affected by acne. It causes spots, oily skin and sometimes skin that’s hot or painful to touch.
Acne most commonly develops on the face (affects almost everyone with acne); back (affects more than half of people with acne; chest (affects about 15% of people with acne)
There are 6 main types of spots caused by acne:

  • Blackheads – small black or yellowish bumps that develop on the skin; they’re not filled with dirt but are black because the inner lining of the hair follicle produces pigmentation (colouring)
  • Whiteheads – have a similar appearance to blackheads, but may be firmer and won’t empty when squeezed
  • Papules – small red bumps that may feel tender or sore
  • Pustules – similar to papules, but have a white tip in the centre, caused by a build-up of pus
  • Nodules – large hard lumps that build up beneath the surface of the skin and can be painful
  • Cysts – the most severe type of spots caused by acne; they’re large pus-filled lumps that look similar to boils and carry the greatest risk of causing permanent scarring

Causes of Acne

Acne is caused when tiny holes in the skin, known as hair follicles, become blocked.
Sebaceous glands are tiny glands found near the surface of your skin. The glands are attached to hair follicles, which are small holes in your skin that an individual hair grows out of. Sebaceous glands lubricate the hair and the skin to stop it drying out. They do this by producing an oily substance called sebum.

In acne, the glands begin to produce too much sebum. The excess sebum mixes with dead skin cells and both substances form a plug in the follicle. If the plugged follicle is close to the surface of the skin, it bulges outwards, creating a white head Alternatively, the plugged follicle can be open to the skin, creating a blackhead. Normally harmless bacteria that live on the skin can then contaminate and infect the plugged follicles, causing papules, pustules, nodules or cysts.

Acne is most commonly linked to the changes in hormone levels during puberty but can start at any age.
Certain hormones such as testosterone cause the grease-producing glands next to hair follicles in the skin to produce larger amounts of oil (abnormal sebum).
This abnormal sebum changes the activity of a usually harmless skin bacterium called P. acnes, which becomes more aggressive and causes inflammation and pus.
The hormones also thicken the inner lining of the hair follicle, causing blockage of the pores (opening of the hair follicles). Cleaning the skin doesn’t help to remove this blockage.
Other possible causes:

  • Acne is known to run in families. If both your mother and father had acne, it’s likely that you’ll also have acne.
  • Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during the menstrual cycle or pregnancy, can also lead to episodes of acne in women.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome is another cause – a common condition that can cause acne, weight gain and the formation of small cysts inside the ovary.

There’s no evidence that diet, poor hygiene or sexual activity play a role in acne. Other possible triggers of an acne flare-up include:
Some cosmetic products – however, this is less common as most products are now tested, so they don’t cause spots (non-comedogenic)

  • Certain medications – such as steroid medications, lithium (used to treat depression and bipolar disorder) and some anti-epileptic drugs (used to treat epilepsy)
  • Regularly wearing items that place pressure on an affected area of skin, such as a headband or backpack
  • Smoking – which can contribute to acne in older people

Prevention of Acne

These self-help techniques may be useful:

  • Don’t wash affected areas of skin more than twice a day. Frequent washing can irritate the skin and make symptoms worse.
  • Wash the affected area with a mild soap or cleanser and lukewarm water. Very hot or cold water can make acne worse.
  • Don’t try to “clean out” blackheads or squeeze spots. This can make them worse and cause permanent scarring.
  • Avoid using too much make-up and cosmetics. Use water-based products that are described as non-comedogenic (this means the product is less likely to block the pores in your skin).
  • Completely remove make-up before going to bed.
  • If dry skin is a problem, use a fragrance-free, water-based emollient.
  • Regular exercise can’t improve your acne, but it can boost your mood and improve your self-esteem. Shower as soon as possible once you finish exercising, as sweat can irritate your acne.
  • Wash your hair regularly and try to avoid letting your hair fall across your face. Although acne can’t be cured, it can be controlled with treatment. If you develop mild acne, it’s a good idea to speak to your pharmacist for advice. Several creams, lotions and gels for treating spots are available to buy from pharmacies. 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.

Symptoms of Acne

Your doctor can diagnose acne by looking at your skin. This involves examining your face, chest or back for the different types of a spot, such as blackheads or sore, red nodules. How severe your acne is will determine where you should go for treatment and what treatment you should have. The severity of acne is often categorised as:

  • Mild – mostly whiteheads and blackheads, with a few papules and pustules
  • Moderate – more widespread whiteheads and blackheads, with many papules and pustules
  • Severe – lots of large, painful papules, pustules, nodules or cysts; you might also have some scarring


Prescription medications that can be used to treat acne include topical preparations, oral antibiotics,  the combined oral contraceptive pill and systemic treatments. If you have severe acne, your doctor can refer you to a dermatology specialist. For example, if you have: a large number of papules and pustules on your chest and back, as well as your face; painful nodules; scarring, or are at risk of scarring. A combination of antibiotic tablets and topical treatments is usually the first treatment option for severe acne. If this doesn’t work, a medication called isotretinoin may be prescribed. Hormonal therapies or the combined oral contraceptive pill can also be effective in women who have acne. But the progestogen-only pill or contraceptive implant can sometimes make acne worse. Many of these treatments can take 2 to 3 months before they start to work. Therefore, it is important to be patient and persist with the recommended treatment, even if there’s no immediate effect. Dr Nikolaidou is an expert in dermatology and in acne treatment and she will guide you on the most appropriate treatment for you.

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