A spot of bother

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2008, 12:00am

Acne is a common problem for teenagers, but if treated properly, it doesn't need to ruin your life

Acne usually starts during the early teens. Almost everyone gets it at some point during their lives.

The skin disorder consists of pimples, blackheads and whiteheads which occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and upper arms.

During adolescence, the skin's oil glands are more active. The extra oil mixes with dead skin cells and clogs up hair follicles. Bacteria that live in the hair follicles cause additional irritation.

A 2002 study looking at the prevalence of acne in Hong Kong focused on 522 teens. Although over half said that they had acne, only 2.4 per cent went to the doctor for help, while 41.5 per cent tried other methods of treatment, such as topical medications.

In a separate study of 52 Hong Kong adolescents published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine in 2000, researchers found that a large majority were more likely to see a western-trained doctor for treatment of acne than to visit a traditional Chinese medical practitioner.

So what can you do if you have acne?

The American Academy of Dermatology offers the following tips to people suffering acne:

To prevent scars, don't pop, squeeze or pick at spots; get treatment early for conditions that don't respond to over-the-counter medications.

Gently wash affected areas twice a day with mild soap and warm water. Vigorous washing and scrubbing can irritate the skin and make acne worse.

Use 'non-comedogenic' cosmetics and toiletries that don't clog pores.

Use oil-free cosmetics and sunscreens.

Avoid alcohol-based astringents, which strip the skin of its natural moisture.

Use medication as directed and allow enough time for acne products to take effect.

Estimated prevalence of acne in different countries

Estimated number of people with acne

China 81,177,976

Hong Kong 428,445

Japan 7,958,312

Macau 27,830

Taiwan 1,421,864

UK 3,766,919

US 18,353,462

Source: www.wrongdiagnosis.com