Acne can cause misery but community pharmacists can restore sufferers’ self-esteem, says Chrisoula Gkouskou

There are many faces to the clinical features and severity of acne. The first indication is a skin with imperfections and occasional oiliness.
It manifests in the form of pimples, clogged or dilated pores, black spots and shine and can be found on the forehead, the lower part of the face, the nose, the chin as well as the neck.

Two phenomena evolve simultaneously:

• Sebaceous hair glands secrete more sebum than usual which is unequally distributed to various skin areas of the face.
• The process of cell renewal accelerates or slows down, resulting in a clogging of the pores while a layer of dead cells prevents sebum secretion.

The fundamental reasons behind the clinical picture is the severity of hormonal activities, an unbalanced diet, stress, air pollution as well as harsh cosmetic products

Skin sanitisation must be based on:

• Daily deep cleansing which allows pores to breathe.
• Regulation of oiliness, reduction of shine as well as tightening of pores.
• Hydration.

Common acne
It manifests in the form of closed or open comedones, small papules with pus, large compact bumps under the skin without apparent heads (cysts).
It appears on the areas with great density of sebaceous glands such as the face, middle chest, neck and upper back. The pathogenic causes of common acne are:

• Increased sebum production assisted by androgens.
• Hyperkeratosis of the hair sebaceous gland and the subsequent pore congestion.
• Colonisation of the gland by P. Acnes germs.
• Inflammation.

Common treatments include antibiotics (of topical application or per os), benzoyl peroxide and retinoids.
There are treatment regimes that cause photosensitivity on skin and are often interrupted during summer months. The dermocosmetic treatment of acne-prone skin includes:

• Daily cleansing which treats all four pathogenic causes.
• Powerful sebum regulation which targets sebum, germs, hyperkeratosis and inflammation while it decongests and shrinks pores.
• Intensive hydration which replenishes lost hydration due to harsh pharmaceutical treatments.

Acne in the summer
Most people believe that the sun offers antimicrobial action, the sea dries skin of sebum due to salt or tanning covers redness and spots and offers uniform skin colour.
These claims are evaluated at the beginning of autumn and their evaluation is usually negative.
Daily care with specialised dermocosmetics is necessary for balanced skin free of acne breakouts.

Chrisoula Gkouskou is a pharmacist and training and quality control manager at Frezyderm.

Dry/sensitive skin – the brand manager’s view: Robin Deb

The first thing to consider is that dry/sensitive skin is not a seasonal issue – both winter and summer weather extremes as well as the general stresses of everyday life can aggravate skin issues.

The terms ‘dry’ skin and ‘sensitive’ skin can cover a broad range of issues. It is important for the pharmacist to understand the underlying issue in order to be able to offer the best advice on treatment or a regular care regime.

Being able to offer the right product to the patient means they will get the best results and be more likely to make your pharmacy their ‘go-to’ place for sound, effective advice. ‘Effective’ doesn’t have to be thick and sticky!

Sufferers need to know that when it comes to effective moisturisation and relief, ‘thicker’ is not always (or often) better – unless you are looking to treat something like a significant eczema outbreak.

In most cases what is needed is a more moderate product that includes the right ingredients to not only moisturise the skin but to sooth and protect – and that treating skin issues does not have to mean sticky residue on the skin and transferring to clothes and bedding.

Today there are creams and lotions, such as Cuderm, where it is all about the quality and purity of ingredients used rather than the thickness of the barrier created, where the results will be more effective and much more convenient to use.

The key to basic skin care is daily maintenance. It is very important to use products regularly to maintain the levels of moisturisation and the protective barrier – this will help keep breakouts to a minimum.

Pharmacists should not underestimate convenience for patients – products need to be easy to use and available in a range of formats and sizes so that good usage habits – such as moisturising directly after a bath or shower (slightly damp skin helps lock in moisture!) or being handy enough to carry in a handbag or pocket.

When you are prone to dry or sensitive skin the quality of ingredients matter. Products such as Cuderm cream, lotion and hand cream are made using high grade colloidal oatmeal which has proven soothing qualities as well as a gentle exfoliating action that helps keep skin smooth and soft.

Sufferers need to avoid products that include alcohol which can dry skin, so they need to look for alternatives such as purified water.

Consumer Research
Because we put a lot of weight on purity of ingredients, we did consumer research among 4,000 Facebook users to find out whether ‘free-from’ credentials are important to them.
The results underlined the way consumer attitudes are changing – they want products that not only offer high performance and excellence results but importantly good ‘free-from’ credentials. The results were;

Animal testing 79%
Alcohol 68%
Animal products 65%
GMOs 63%
Fragrance 42%

Robin Deb is the founder of Synergy Biologics, the makers of Cuderm.