Common Skin Complaints And How To Treat Them.

We are surrounded by pictures of airbrushed women with inhumanly perfect skin. But what do you do if, like the majority of the population, you suffer from a common skin disorder? Skin complaints are often agitated by raging hormones, stress, and general poor health; all ingredients in the average student’s life.

The important thing to know is that you don’t have to put up with skin complaints. Understanding what the disorder is and how to treat it, is the first step in beating it.


Acne is the most common skin disorder affecting a whopping 80 per cent of people. It is caused by oil clogging the sebaceous glands in the skin, which then become infected and develop into the pesky pustules we know as spots.

It is often triggered by hormones during puberty, making it a common problem amongst young people; so if you’re suffering from spots you’re not alone. Poor general health can also make it worse.

The good news is that acne treatment has come a long way in recent years, and with the right medication and care it can be controlled. The most common acne treatments are medications that can be applied to the skin. Topical retinoids, such as adapalene and creams containing benzoyl peroxide, can be used to dry the skin and unclog the pores

For very infected spots topical or oral antibiotics can be used. An effective combination can be the use of oral antibiotics to treat the infection, and topical retinoids to unclog the pores.

If all else fails and your acne is really severe you may be put on stronger treatments, although these have been associated with more serious side-effects.

For women hormone treatments can be effective. Co-cyprindiol is a contraceptive pill that reduces the oiliness of the skin. Isotretinoin also reduces the oiliness of the skin and decreases the amount of bacteria. You can find out more about acne treatments from the NHS.


Eczema is another common skin disorder. In some ways it is the antithesis of acne, being characterized by patches of very dry, itchy, red skin. However, to add insult to injury, the conditions have been known to occur together.

It most commonly occurs in folds of skin, such as behind the knees and elbows. Many people will only experience mild symptoms, but serious symptoms include painful, cracking and bleeding skin.

There is no defined cause of eczema, but it can be made worse by factors such as allergies, hormones, stress and the changing of seasons. Common treatments are emollients which moisturise the skin, and topical corticosteroids which reduce redness during flare ups.

Dr Fox provides treatment on prescription for acne, rosacea, and eczema.


Not as well-known as acne and eczema, psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes red, flaky patches of skin covered in silvery scales. It’s caused by the process of skin cell renewal speeding up, resulting in cells that are not fully matured building up on the surface. It is most common on the elbows, knees, lower back and scalp. It is hereditary and can be made worse by factors including stress, alcohol and immune disorders.

Although it cannot be cured it can be controlled with creams, photo therapy and oral or injected medication that reduce the production of skin cells. The National Psoriasis Association has a wealth of useful information.


Rosacea is a nasty little condition that affects the face. It’s characterised by episodes of flushing, permanent redness, visible blood vessels, and burning and stinging sensations. In severe cases the skin thickens and enlarges, often around the nose.

Nobody knows what causes rosacea but there is a nice long list of things that make it worse. These include stress, sunlight, heat, alcohol, caffeine and spicy food.

Apart from avoiding the triggers, there are some treatments that can help. For mild inflammatory rosacea topical treatments can be effective. However these have little effect on vascular rosacea which is best treated with laser and light therapies.

Acne treatments are also prescribed for some types of severe rosacea including antibiotics, and Isotretinoin.  Bupa provides a useful rosacea guide.

There’s no better way of saying it- skin conditions are a royal pain in the bum. They turn up when you least expect them, often with little warning or explanation. However, with the right medication and skin care regime they can be brought under control.

If you are experiencing skin problems visit your GP.