Out of every 100 patients I see in clinic, 20–25 are acne sufferers. Despite the common misconception that acne only affects teenagers, a large proportion of my patients are in fact adults. Many of them have suffered through previous failed attempts to clear their acne, and in many cases these interventions have made things worse.

Below are the seven most common mistakes acne sufferers make, and how to avoid them:

1. Complex skincare routines

Multi-step skincare regimes have previously been associated with Korean beauty, but in the past few years, they have taken the rest of the world by storm…


Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash

Acne is such a common condition in puberty that it is often thought of as a temporary phase that most will have to go through, almost like a rite of passage. However, not only does acne continue into adulthood for some, but its effects can persist in ways that people do not expect, namely in the form of permanent scarring. In fact, as many as 20% of people with acne will go onto develop some form of scarring.

This may not be that apparent to acne sufferers while they have active acne, as they are more troubled by a cycle…


Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

“I keep telling him it’s because of all the chocolates he’s eating, but he won’t listen to me. Could you please tell him too, he might listen to you?”

If I had a pound for every time the parent of a teenage acne patient uttered a version of that statement in my office… you get my point. Chocolate and sugar in general have traditionally been blamed for acne breakouts. Of course, nowadays it is not just teenagers with acne that get to experience this guilt over food, or even food shaming — however unintentional. …


Imagine you are a teenage girl with acne. You have tried some topical treatments prescribed by your GP for your skin, but they haven’t done the trick. When talking about further options for your acne, you are offered the contraceptive pill as a good all-rounder. After all, your skin is all down to your hormones, right? You start taking it, and it really does help. Your skin improves, though you may carry on having some breakouts, but you chalk this up to “being a teenager”. In your late teens and early twenties, you carry on, needing the contraception too. There…

Dr Penelope Pratsou

Consultant dermatologist and founder of Dr Pratsou Dermatology Ltd, a medical practice specialising in all things skin. Over 25,000 skin patients treated.

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