What you need to know

Nearly all young people experience concerns with their skin, it's believed that 80% of teenagers will live with acne at some stage.

Spots occur due to an increase in hormones, which is why an increase in spots or an onset of acne is often noted during puberty. The increase in hormones cause the skin's oil glands (sebaceous glands) to produce sebum. Sebum then sits on the skin via the hair follicle opening (pores), this leads to the hair follicles becoming blocked, and spots developing.

In the majority of cases spots can appear on the face, neck, back or chest. Acne does not carry a significant physical health risk, however can impact somebody's emotional health significantly, as it may lead to poor self esteem, poor body image, and anxiety.

Despite 80% of teenagers and young adults experiencing acne and spots, the vast majority improve and only 5% of females and 1% of males experience acne over the age of 25 years.

If you want to talk to someone about your skin, you can text our public health nurses on 07507 330025. This is a confidential text messaging service for young people, providing advice and support. Available Monday to Friday, 9am – 4.30pm, except bank holidays. 

You can also attend a drop-in at your school to see a public health nurse. In most schools you do not need an appointment, you just turn up at the venue and wait to be seen. At other schools you may need to make an appointment. Find out more here.

  • Ensure your skin is clean
  • Remove all make up at night
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Drink lots of water, remain hydrated
  • Resist the desire to pick or squeeze spots, this can lead them to be worse
  • Use an oil free, high SPF sun cream if spending any time in the sun (30+)
  • Wear protective clothing to avoid getting burnt, e.g. sunglasses/hat
  • Resist the desire to scrub your face, over-exfoliating the skin can cause inflammation
  • If you use a hormonal based contraceptive e.g. the pill, it's important you discuss your skin concerns with the GP, as these contraceptive methods can have an impact on susceptibility to acne/spots
  • Speak to your GP, there are many treatments available which may help.


Acne is a very common skin condition that causes different types of bumps. Many teens and pre-teens get acne because of the hormonal changes that occur with puberty. Acne can appear on the back, upper chest, neck, shoulders and the face.

Eczema (pronounced: EG-zeh-muh)

Eczema is a condition where the skin becomes red, scaly, irritated, and itchy. It is not contagious, you can’t catch it from someone else. The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but common causes can be things that can irritate skin such as soaps and detergents, including shampoo, washing-up liquid and bubble bath. Other causes can be our environment such as cold and dry weather, dampness, or allergens such as food allergies, dust mites, pet fur, pollen and moulds.

Psoriasis (pronounced seh-RYE-eh-siss)

Psoriasis is a condition where red, thickened patches of skin called plaques appear. These can burn, itch, or feel sore. Often, silvery scales cover the plaques. Plaques can happen anywhere. Psoriasis cannot be caught through close contact or touching.

Health for Teens: 3 things that don't give you spots

NHS: Acne

NHS: Eczema

British Skin Foundation: Psoriasis