Skin problems


Different shades of mineral make-upWe all know that beauty is only skin deep, but if one's skin is plagued by unsightly or painful spots, rashes and scaly bits, caused by acne, rosacea, eczema and other afflictions, it can be distinctly undermining.

If there's no cure for our skin problems, then at the very least we demand sympathy, soothing unguents and a fail-safe cosmetic concealer. Over to the Mumsnet Talk boards to draw on the wisdom of fellow sufferers.

Adult acne

Oh, the misery. Adult acne, whether brought on by pregnancy, contraception, polycystic ovary syndrome, hormones, or a permanent feature of your life, can be so painful and disfiguring that some of us literally will not go out of the house during a bad attack. But please do not suffer in silence.

Demand treatment, do not let a doctor fob you off. It's not 'just spots', it's sore, sore, sore, and no matter how robust and marvellous a person you are, it can really take away your confidence.

Your GP will probably prescribe topical creams and gels to start with and then move on to antibiotics and other drug treatments if the topical treatment doesn't work. Skin specialists may prescribe Roaccutane (which is a no-no if you're pregnant or breastfeeding).

"I developed adult acne when I was 40, full-blown, proper painful terrible acne, having never had it as a teenager or younger adult. MY GP put me on oxytetracycline, an antibiotic that can be effective for acne, and within two weeks my skin was on its way to being clear." JellyBelly10

Rosacea advice
See what remedies, skincare regimes and make-up Mumsnetters recommend if you have rosacea.

Another Mumsnetter says: "If it's really severe, a UV lamp can help. And sometimes you can be put on Roaccutane if a consultant says it's bad enough."

Treatments for adult acne may mean you go from oily to dry skin. If your skin is becoming irritated by a treatment, cut down how often you use it, or ask your GP if you can switch to a different one.

Dos and don'ts if you've got acne

  • Don't pick or squeeze spots, it can lead to scarring (easier said than done, obvs, but MNetters are always up for discussing the psychology of spot picking)
  • Do expect to use acne treatments for several months before you see much improvement
  • Do wear oil-free or water-based make-up (look for labels that say 'non-comedogenic' or 'non-acnegenic')
  • Don't scrub your skin - it can irritate it and make acne worse
  • Do eat well - there is little evidence that any foods (even chocolate) cause acne, but skin benefits from a balanced diet 

A fair few Mumsnetters swear by the oil cleansing method, however counter-intuitive it feels to clean oily skin with oil. 

There are laser treatments available to reduce post-acne scarring, but make ultra-sure the person doing it is an experienced, qualified laser surgeon.

And as for make-up?

"Basically you need to forget everything you've learned about how to use make-up to cover your spots. Don't think in terms of concealer etc. Just give mineral foundation a go. You can build coverage up easily if you need to. Just keep the brush nice and clean and you'll be fine." RamblingRosa


Another one for the doctor rather than a bunch of internet sprites, but many people on Mumsnet can pass on their hard-won wisdom, so it is worth having a look on the Health boards if the GP approach isn't helping.

Dry skin and red, itchy patches are a typical sign, especially in the crooks of elbow and back of knee. Keeping moisture levels up is key, ideally only resorting to topical steroids for a bad flare-up.

"Aveeno is AMAZING - I have yukky eczema and it works a treat!!" CaptainDippy

"Dermol, you can buy it and it's an antimicrobial. If your eczema is caused by allergies it's great (a bit expensive but you can wash with it, too). Lacrimosa


Psoriasis is an autoimmunue condition where skin cells replace themselves too quickly. Keeping moisturised does help with those dry, scaly patches (non-itchy, for the most part; if itchy, start thinking eczema) but a visit to the GP is your first step.

It's then a case of trial and error to find the products that work for you. Here's a selection of Mumsnet recommendations:

"My mum has had terrible psoriasis on her scalp for years, sometimes thick weeping crusts, and it's been hell. But she has found the Philip Kingsley flaky scalp shampoo a true miracle. Pricy, but she buys in bulk." piratecat

"A good treatment for psoriasis on the scalp is olive oil and baby shampoo. A nurse at work told me to massage olive oil into my scalp in the evening for four days and in the mornings to wash my hair with baby shampoo. It cleared my scalp completely and now I maintain it with olive oil once a week and only wash my hair with baby shampoo. The oil also cleared the patches on my forehead." weebleswobble

"I second use of natural (not mineral) oil for prevention/moisture. Olive oil or sesame work best for me. Keep a bottle in the shower and apply every day after shower - on damp skin for maximum penetration - a few drops of lavender essential oil are fine to mask strong smell and act as soothing mildly antibacterial. Also agree scalp treatment. Mild baby shampoo much better than any tar treatment I used." slim22

"Dead Sea Spa Magik products are psoriasis-friendly and they have lovely bath salts as well as facial products." LightShinesInTheDarkness

Keratosis pilaris

Kerastosis is a common skin condition caused when a protein called keratin plugs up hair follicles. It gives skin a rough, bumpy texture and mainly affects the upper arms and front of the thighs (as if we didn't have enough problems in those areas).

And goose-bumpy skin is such a lovely sight, is it not, come the summer? <mutters something about blimmin' shops and their obsession with sleeveless tops and short skirts> But fear not, the fantastic and fearless experimentors of Mumsnet Style and beauty have discovered the answer. It's Flexitol, a thick cream designed for feet, that contains urea.

"Flexitol, it's a cream for hard skin on feet. It works on spotty arms as well." Cornsilk

"It basically contains a high percentage of urea, which can dekeratinise the plugs. A dermatology doctor friend told me this." otchayaniye

This is one skin condition where a bit of scrubbing may help: "Exfoliation is the key, use those nylon puff jobs in the shower." 

And finally...

There's a big difference between being the person who occasionally gets a zit the size of a petit pois and heads straight to the chemist for some spot-blasting cream, and being the person plagued with a sensitised skin surface that responds to every little stress, exertion or foodstuff.

If you are person A, do remember not to moan to person B about your spots because it will make them want to flick you hard on your otherwise unblemished forehead.

But whatever nature has inflicted on you skin-wise, if you have found something that works for you, do, please, take the time to pass it on via the MN Style & Beauty board. If you have had real difficulties with your skin, then you will know how much a 'cure' might transform someone else's life. 

"Thanks for all the messages. I seem to be surrounded by friends with amazing glowing skin with no make-up, so nice to know I'm not alone in being a spotty herbert!" iwanttoseethezoo

Last updated: over 3 years ago