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Acne usually commences in early adolescence, and usually resolves in the early 20s, although it can last longer. It may affect around 80% of people during their teenage or early adult years.


  • Acne vulgaris, the most common form of acne, consists of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and cysts that appear mainly on the face and to a lesser extent on the chest, shoulders, arms and back.   
  • It may also occur on parts of the body that are affected by friction or pressure. (For example, where a backpack straps rub against the skin - this form of acne is called acne mechanica).   
  • Scarring may occur, especially from cysts.
  • In females, acne may be worse prior to the menstrual period, or during other periods of hormonal change, including pregnancy, menopause, or the use of oral contraceptions.
  • Stress can also trigger or aggravate acne outbreaks.
  • It is not uncommon for sufferers to become socially withdrawn, self-conscious, or even depressed.


Acne typically develops during puberty, when higher levels of male hormones called androgens increase the size and activity of the sebaceous glands. This in turn raises the skin’s sebum (oil) levels.

Hormonal fluctuations also mean some women experience acne as a component of pre-menstrual syndrome, or during other times of hormonal change, including pregnancy and menopause.

Whiteheads and blackheads occur when pores and dead skin cells become blocked by sebum.

Pimples develop if an inflammation or infection (often with the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes) sets in beneath the blocked pore. Cysts occur if pus and other secretions build up deep beneath the blocked pores within the hair follicles.

The use of certain drugs (e.g. anabolic steroids and some anti-seizure medicines), and exposure to chlorine compounds may also lead to acne problems. Excess iodine may also be involved in some cases.

You’re more likely to be affected by acne if one of your parents had the condition during their teenage years.

Natural therapies

  • Zinc helps maintain healthy skin, and is beneficial for skin repair and healing. It may assist in the management of acne.

Diet and lifestyle

  • Keep your skin clean by washing it twice daily, but don’t use harsh products or an aggressive scrubbing action. Keep your hair clean too, and keep it off the affected area so that it doesn’t add to the amount of oil present.
  • Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties, and may help to fight infection and heal lesions. It is best applied diluted or in specially formulated products, up to three times daily.
  • Try to resist the urge to touch acne lesions, as you may introduce additional dirt and germs to the area. Above all, don’t be tempted to squeeze or pick at pimples or other lesions. To do so may increase the risk of scarring and infection.
  • Choose oil-free cosmetics and ensure all make-up brushes and sponges are washed regularly. Always take your make-up off at the end of the day.
  • There are conflicting theories about the effects of diet on acne. While the research suggests there is no direct link between acne outbreaks and foods such as chocolate and sweets, natural therapies experts recommend avoiding fatty foods (especially trans fats), concentrated carbohydrates (especially carbohydrates with a high glycaemic index) and dairy foods.
  • Instead, eat a diet rich in antioxidants. Important sources include berries, citrus fruits, and brightly coloured vegetables such as carrots, capsicum and tomatoes. 
  • Take steps to manage your stress levels. Relaxation therapy, meditation and massage may all help to decrease stress.

Important notes

  • In severe cases, your doctor may recommend the use of antibiotics or other medications to help control your acne. Many sufferers prefer to explore natural options first, as some of these medicines are associated with adverse effects.

Get free personalised advice from our team of qualified naturopaths here
Hi Ian, unfortunately Blackmores Skin Support did not attract sufficient support to continue as part of the Blackmores range and has been discontinued. If you would like to discuss a suitable alternative for your grand-daughter please contact Blackmores Naturopathic Advisory on 1800 803 760 or email Hope to hear from you soon, thanks, Danielle
I am trying to obtain a supply of Blackmores Skin Support tablets for my granddaughter but they seem to be no longer available. Is this correct and if not, how can I obtain a supply.
Anonymous 07 Oct 2014
Hi Antata I’m sorry to hear your skin is troubling you however you are not alone. Acne is one of the most common skin conditions, with up to 30% of women 20-40 years old experiencing pimple breakouts.
Herbal treatments for acne take into account the fact that the health of the skin is a reflection of overall body health. The skin is believed to be one of the main organs of elimination along with the kidneys, liver and bowels. Arctium lappa (burdock) is an alterative that has traditionally been used in Western Herbal Medicine for detoxifying, clarifying and purifying skin support. Traditionally it was also used as a diuretic and as an alterative to help remove accumulated waste products via the kidneys, mucous membranes and skin. Silybum marianum (milk thistle) is a well known liver herb that supports liver detoxification. The liver helps metabolise and process hormones, and helps with hormone clearance.
Vitamins C & E and zinc pay a role in healthy skin function. Zinc and vitamin C play a role in skin healing, with zinc having an anti-inflammatory effect to help reduce inflamed, red and swollen pimples. Please call the Blackmores Advisory line on 1800 803 760 for product recommendations.
Kind regards, Emma Flett (Blackmores naturopath)
I am 24 yrs old. But i still have acne problems. I always have pre-menstrual acne, and it always not disappear after period. Could you recommend any products that suit me? Thank you!
Anonymous 23 Jan 2014
I am very interested in your "Radiance by Blackmores Skin Purify" with Zinc and Burdock but cannot source it anywhere not even via your site as "Greyed out items are currently unavailable" - When will this product be available again, if at all?
Anonymous 22 Nov 2013
Hello Al,
Sorry to hear that you have had difficulty accessing this product. It appears to now be in stock and is no longer ‘greyed out’ from my end. Al, would you mind trying to access it again through Please call the Blackmores Advisory line on 1800 803 760 if you are still unable to order it successfully or for other product recommendations. Kind regards, Leanne (Blackmores naturopath)
My late teen son has oily facial skin and has acne. Tried Blackmores Skin Control tablets and appear to have helped. Problem is that we have been unable to pruchase any from the local chemists and item is listed as "Greyed out items are currently unavailable"
Your advice on possible remedy and product status is appreciated. Thanks.
Anonymous 09 May 2013
Dear Caroline,
Chlorine appears to remove the naturally occurring oils out of the skin leading to an imbalance in the ph balance of the skin. Applying jojoba oil topically before swimming may be beneficial as it has a normalizing action on oil production and may act as a barrier and help to protect the skin.
Unless your daughter plans to reduce her amount of swimming training and therefore her exposure to chlorine, I would recommend increasing her dietary intake of essential fatty acids such as flaxseed oil and fish oil.
In addition, I would suggest that your daughter take some probiotics to restore digestive balance after -when naturopaths treat any skin condition, we will always look at optimizing digestive function.
You might also consider taking your daughter to a naturopath in private practice who can tailor an individualized treatment plan for her.
I hope this has been helpful Caroline and I wish both you and your daughter all the best of health.
Kindest regards, Rebekah (a Blackmores naturopath)