Guide to Beating Spots Most of us have had to deal with spots at some point in our lives and we know how much it can knock your confidence. The pores in your skin contain oil glands to lubricate your skin and hair, but sometimes these pores can get blocked with bacteria or excess oil (sebum), causing spots. Spots generally appear on the face, neck, shoulders, chest and/or back, so those who a prone to spots may have problems in any one of, or all of these areas. Cruelly this tends to happen most often during the teenage years, a time that is difficult enough without skin problems! There are several techniques you can use to improve the appearance of acne or spots but there is no quick fix cure for teenage spots, so those who have them should not expect a clear skin next week. Treatment takes time and lots of trial and error. On the upside acne will eventually get better and is generally a phase. Causes and solutions Hormones – Sebum is produced in glands that become particularly active around the time of puberty. Levels of secretion vary from person to person and those whose skin secretes a lot of sebum are more likely to suffer with acne or spots. Genetics – As with many things, acne appears to run in families. If your parents had acne you are more likely to have it too. Lifestyle – Some people find that certain foods affect their acne and humid environments, which can lead to blocked pores, may worsen it. Try eliminating greasy, sugary, processed foods or those with lots of added colours. Healthy diet always helps your general appearance so this is a win/win approach. Products – It is also important to keep the skin clean by washing thoroughly in the morning and before bed. However, some soaps can worsen spots, so try a soap-free facial wash product, preferably one that contains salicylic acid, and avoid highly perfumed products. It is important to keep your hair clean too and to keep it off your face while you sleep. Make-up – Again, make-up can worsen acne by irritating or clogging pores. There are some antibacterial make-ups on the market, and oil-based make-ups should certainly be avoided. Those who do wear make-up despite acne or spots should seek the advice of a professional who may be able to help chose a product that will irritate/clog the skin as little as possible. However, the best advice is to wear as little as possible, infrequently, and to wash it off thoroughly after use. Picking – Do not pick! It may be difficult but there is no doubt that acne spreads when picked, it also causes further inflammation and makes spots more obvious than if you had just left well alone. Picking also causes scarring which can stay visible for years to come. Smoking and drinking – Toxins are bad for your skin. When your liver is overloaded it will show in your skin, so smoking and drinking are best avoided. Medications – Some medications can cause spots, your doctor can advise on which are likely to exacerbate a skin problem. However, he may also be able to suggest a helpful medication to clear spots up. This is a last resort but if all else fails it may be worth considering speaking to a GP about possible acne/spot treatments.