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Skincare Diaries: Dr Claire Ashley - Treating PCOS-related Acne

If you suffer with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), there are a number of symptoms you may face - some of which might directly affect your skin. For the latest Skincare Diaries article, I spoke to Dr Claire Ashley of Aethra Aesthetics, who discussed how she has managed to get her PCOS-related acne under control, and provides advice for anyone else experiencing blackheads, acne and large pores. Sound familiar? Read on for more...

Hi Dr Ashley! What’s your biggest skincare concern?

I have struggled with acne-prone skin, large pores and blackheads ever since I was a teenager. When I was younger I tried everything going on the high street, and I mean pretty much everything. I tried medicated and harsh cleansers like Clearasil and those awful pore strips for your nose! Nothing really seemed to work until I went on the combined contraceptive pill, which helped clear up my skin massively. However, I still got spots so, when I got engaged at 27, I decided that I wanted to get my skin in the very best condition for my wedding. I also figured that as a doctor I needed to look a little bit more professional rather than like a spotty teenager. It was then that I started to read around skincare products and ingredients, and became much more informed about what I needed to be using to get my skin into better shape. When I came off the pill after my marriage I was then diagnosed with PCOS, a hormonal disorder which causes acne (amongst other symptoms) and I suddenly realised why my skin was so terrible!

What have you found to be the best treatment for PCOS-related acne and spots?

The best way to treat my skin has been a combination of changing my lifestyle and using the right skincare ingredients for my particular skin type. In terms of lifestyle, ensuring that I am eating a healthy diet with lots of vegetables and low GI carbohydrates has helped with both the PCOS and my skin. Avoiding skincare with alcohol has made a big difference, as alcohol is far too drying and then triggers an overproduction of oil. I started to look for skincare products with zinc, salicylic acid, retinol and azelaic acid in, which helped. Then, the final thing that turned my skin from being good to glowing was switching to medical grade skincare and having regular skin resurfacing treatments with pHFormula.

What would you recommend to anyone who suffers with PCOS-related acne?

The advice I’d give anyone that has the same skincare concern is firstly not to worry about it, acne is very common and you are not alone if you are feeling down about it. Your GP can offer advice and prescription medications, if required, and for some people this is very helpful. However, it is essential to get your skincare right. Look for the ingredients listed above, keep your cleanser gentle and don’t use any harsh exfoliants - they will ruin your skin. And ALWAYS wear SPF 50.

Thanks, Dr Ashley! Great tips on treating PCOS-related skin issues that I’m sure will help a lot of women.

If you're suffering with a skin concern, or just want to improve your skin's appearance, check out the new Skincare Consultation service from Glowday! It's a great way to find out the best course of skincare action for your skin - all in the comfort of your own home!

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