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5 steps to clearer skin when you've literally tried everything else under the sun, according to a top derm

Picture: Pexels
Picture: Pexels

Take it from the pros.

It's unbelievably frustrating when your skin won't play ball. Especially when you've tried everything you can think of to soothe, calm and clear it.

Acne affects 95% of 11-30 year-olds to some extent, according to the NHS. And adult acne in older age groups is also very common. Over the past year, cases have risen as the pandemic has seen stress levels increase, while maskne has seen more of us experiencing spots around our chin and mouth.

If you've tried the usual stuff – switching up your skincare, monitoring triggers and cleansing thoroughly – but you're still struggling to keep your skin in check, Dr Stefanie Williams, Founder of Eudelo skin clinic in London is here to share professional advice from a top dermatologist below.

1. Get a proper diagnosis

Instead of stabbing around in the dark, it's important to know what, specifically, is causing the issue so you can follow the best course forward.

"There’s no one cause of breakouts. Spots, pimples, blackheads and whiteheads can be related to several skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, perioral dermatitis (POD), bacterial folliculitis, yeast (or fungal) folliculitis or a form of chronic sun damage called Favre-Racouchot syndrome to name a few," says Dr Stefanie.

Some are more likely than others, so it's important that we know how to identify the symptoms. "Of these skin conditions, acne and rosacea are the most common culprits of facial breakouts in adult women, so let’s talk about these in a bit more detail," says Dr Stefanie. You can find out more about acne and rosacea with our

It's also important to bear in mind that the solution might not be a quick fix and instead may require a longterm change to your skincare or lifestyle. "Both adult acne and rosacea are chronic skin conditions, not just self-limiting disorders that one has to endure for a short period of time. Recognising the chronicity of adult acne and rosacea also means that maintenance treatment is integral for the management of these conditions," Dr Stefanie explains.

2. Medical treatment

If the stuff on the supermarket shelves aren't helping, head to your GP. "Treatment options include many prescription creams as well as oral treatment with tablets, where needed. Most breakouts can be controlled well with just topical treatment, so you’ll likely be prescribed creams or gels for home use with no need to take tablets," says Dr Stefanie.

But don't be afraid to ask for a combination of treatments to find the right fit. "Often GPs and other doctors are prescribing a single cream with disappointing results. We know from our extensive experience treating breakouts that most cases respond much better to a clever combination of different prescription creams. For example, a tailored plan of one cream in the morning and another in the evening, or alternating different products on different days of the week tends to yield far better results than a single solution," explains Dr Stefanie.

3. Optimise skincare

Prescription treatments can only do so much of the heavy lifting if your regular skincare isn't also working toward the same goal. "Years of experience has shown the importance of taking a close look at your homecare and building a personalised regime for your skincare around the prescription creams," says Dr Stefanie. "The wrong skincare can aggravate or even cause acne, rosacea and POD, that’s why it’s so important to get it right."

Before sending you away, your GP or dermatologist should discuss your skincare routine with you to ensure you're using products that assist the topical treatments in calming and clearing your skin. "Developing a skincare regime for somebody suffering with breakouts requires an intricate knowledge of both skincare ingredients, base formulations and possible interactions with prescription treatments. This is not easy, that’s why it’s so important to refer to a dermatologist or dermatologist-trained therapist who has years of experience in optimising skincare for breakout patients," says Dr Stefanie.

4. Lifestyle factors

Of course, skincare is only one part of the puzzle, and there are many other influences that can aggravate our skin. "Once you have your diagnosis, treatment and skincare sorted, it’s time to take a look at the other lifestyle factors that play a role in your skin health. Your diet, environment and emotional wellbeing all play out on our skin. You need to discuss how to adapt these factors to give your skin the best chance of being clear," says Dr Stefanie.

5. In-clinic treatments

Finally, head to a professional for medical-grade treatments. There are plenty of options so spend some time with your consultant working out which is best for you. "Dermatology grade facials are not the only in-clinic treatment which can benefit breakout-prone skin and conditions such as acne and rosacea. There’s a whole raft of possibilities depending on your needs, including: LED light treatment, chemical peels, plasma energy peels and certain types of lasers," explains Dr Stefanie. "These should be discussed with your dermatologist or dermatologist-trained therapist. But remember, the first line of treatment for breakouts should always be prescription creams together with skincare optimisation in my professional opinion."

Written by Elle Turner.

This article originally appeared on Glamour UK.

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