Acne is said to be the most common skin problem in the world and whether you are 13 or 30, have a few spots or are seriously covered, it can cause misery.

But it can be got rid of.

You can try treatments off-the-shelf, complementary therapies or speak to a pharmacist but don't be afraid to go and see your GP because they can help.

The important thing to remember is nothing will work straight away stick to your treatment for two months or more. And you should do something about it as soon as possible.

Pharmacist Dominic Osman-Allu, who works at Ross Pharmacy, York Place, Brighton, says: "It's better to seek medication sooner rather than later because you will be less likely to get scarring. The choice of treatment depends on whether there is inflammation and the severity."

Here are ten ways to help you beat acne. (See Miranda Holt's column next week for homeopathic treatments.)

1. Keep your skin clean
Acne is not caused by poor hygiene but you should have a good cleansing routine to avoid the spread of bacteria. Don't wash more then twice a day, remove make-up before bed, choose oil-free make-up and clean your brushes. Men should have a wet shave, not dry.

2. Eat a good diet
Fatty foods and chocolate won't cause acne but eating the right foods can help. Eat plenty of fibre to keep your system clean and avoid refined carbohydrates. Opt for fruit, vegetables, beans, pulses, brown rice and foods with essential fats such as oily fish and seeds.

Acne sufferers are thought to be deficient in zinc, which is also an effective antibiotic and may prevent scarring so eat shellfish, soya beans, whole grains and sunflower seeds. Orange and yellow foods contain betacarotine which is good for skin elasticity.

3. Take supplements and herbs
Take zinc supplements but be patient it can take at least 12 weeks before you notice a difference. Vitamin A is said to help but should only be taken under professional guidance.

Vitamin B6 can help women around the time of their period and vitamin B5 may help with stress. Vitamin B3, vitamin B complex, vitamin E, selenium and essential fatty acids may help.

Herbal remedies include tea tree oil, burdock, agnus castus and guggal.

Products to try: HRI Clear Complexion Tablets, £3.85, from Boots, and Boots Alternative Acne Relief, £3.99.

4. Try some natural products
We're all familiar with big-name products found on the shop shelves.

Here are some natural-based products you could try from Dolphin House Shop, New Road, Brighton:
Dr Hauschka Oily Face Care Kit, includes cleansing cream, clarifying toner, normalising day oil, facial steam bath, cleansing day mask and rejuvenating mask to address the PH balance of skin. Price £12.

  • Natura Purifying range which includes a cleansing gel, £8.90, purifying toner, £10.20, moisturising cream, £21.90 and moisturising mask, £23.90.
  • Burt's Bees Pore Refining Mask, £9.50, and Parsley Blemish Stick, £9.99.
  • Living Nature Purifying Cleansing Gel, £7.70 and £18.40.

5. Ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter products
The main products are those containing benzoyl peroxide. They can be quite harsh but their effectiveness is proven.

Over-the-counter facial scrubs are also available. Freederm Gel is one of the newest over-the-counter treatments and contains an anti-inflammatory.

6. See your GP
There is a range of treatments your GP can prescribe. Topical treatments may cause irritation, redness and peeling but the side effects often disappear. Retinoid products can make you sensitive to sunlight and must not be used during pregnancy.

Your GP can prescribe oral antibiotics, which show improvement after four to six months but can have side effects. Topical antibiotics are also available.

7. Go on the Pill
Dianette is a contraceptive pill specifically designed for women with acne. It is effective and you may notice a difference after three months.

GPs don't always like to keep you on it for longer than necessary but once your acne has eased, they may recommend another brand of pill.

8. See a specialist
A dermatologist is a skin specialist in a hospital who is allowed to give you a powerful treatment called isotretinoin which acts on the oil-producing glands. It may harm an unborn child so you will have a pregnancy test before and the skin may flare up and become red. The treatment usually lasts for four months and can produce great results. Other skin specialists can also help.

The Shadi Danin Hair, Scalp and Skin Clinic, New Church Road, Hove, offers a range of acne treatments to suit you, including light therapy, laser treatment, medical peels, internal cleansing and lifestyle advice.

9. Try a light box
Getting out in the sunshine can often help acne but the weather is not always predictable so you could try a light box.

Light therapy was found to be beneficial in studies by doctors at Hammersmith Hospital, London.

The Acne Support Group also says many people have found light boxes to be effective. They are used for 15 to 30 minutes a day and are said to kill bacteria and be anti-inflammatory. They can cost around £200 but you may be able to hire one. Log on to, or for examples.

10. Try Chinese medicine
Studies have shown acupuncture, which involves using special needles at certain points of the body, can be effective in helping treat hormonal problems and several have shown its value for helping acne sufferers without side affects. The treatment of cupping, which uses heated cups which create suction on the area of the body being treated, has also been shown to help.


  • The Acne Support Group 0870 870 2263, log on to and
  • The Dolphin House Shop, New Road, Brighton, call 01273 721720 Boots, North Road, Brighton, call 01273 207461, log on to
  • The Shadi Danin Hair, Scalp and Skin Clinic, New Church Road, Brighton, call 01273 738409, log on to