Dear Diana, I’m in my 60s and can’t believe that I appear to have acne. It’s so many years since I went through that terrible teenage phase of thinking I’d never be rid of those unsightly blemishes. And now I feel I’m back there trapped in the nightmare all over again. Is this normal? Becky P – Carshalton
Dear Becky – poor you! But, acne doesn’t just affect girls going through puberty. Increasingly middle aged women are experiencing outbreaks of acne appearing commonly on the face, back and sometimes chest. The six types of acne spot include blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, nodules and cysts. Cysts look similar to boils and carry a risk of permanent scarring. Acne is not just a cosmetic issue; the condition comes and goes often leaving scarring and discolouration which can affect self-esteem.
It’s hard to stay upbeat while getting acne under control but try to be patient and positive. Help yourself by washing the affected area with a mild soap or cleanser with lukewarm water, but not more than twice a day. Use less make up and use water-based (non-comedogenic) products which are less likely to block the pores. Remove completely before going to bed and use a fragrance-free, water-based emollient if you have dry skin. Don’t squeeze spots, this can cause permanent scarring. Talk to your pharmacist about the creams, lotions and gels available to help prevent outbreaks. If acne is on your chest and back it may need antibiotics or stronger creams, only available on prescription. If you’re unhappy and can’t control your spots talk to your GP.