Acne is a very common, often long-term skin condition caused by an overgrowth of bacteria on the skin. It is common in both men and women but can be linked to changes in hormones such as during puberty or in women with poly-cystic ovary syndrome. Areas of acne usually have oily skin, whiteheads, blackheads, and inflamed spots. The most common areas affected are the face and body particularly the back or chest.
Acne can be treated with creams and gels as well as with tablets depending on the severity. The treatments are easy to use, effective and safe for short acne flare ups.
Acne is a very common, often long-term skin condition. Areas of acne usually have oily skin, whiteheads, blackheads, and inflamed spots. The most common areas affected are the face and body particularly the back or chest. The condition is more commonly seen in teenagers and can be onset by puberty but it can also affect adults. Acne is most commonly seen in patients between the ages of 12 to 30.
Causes of Acne
Oil (Sebum) is released from sebaceous glands near the hair follicles to keep the skin lubricated. Sebum release is controlled by the hormone testosterone in both men and women and when sebum is produced in excess, it along with dead skin cells can block the hair follicles. This causes the symptoms of acne. This process can aggravate the bacterium P. acnes that is found on the skin, causing the follicles to become infected and resulting in inflamed skin.
Acne can run in families and hormonal changes during menstrual cycles or pregnancy can cause acne in women.
How can Acne be controlled?
Cleaning the skin twice a day with mild, pH balanced cleaners rather than soap can reduce the amount of inflammation experienced with acne.
Scratching and squeezing spots and blackheads can make them worse so to avoid permanent scarring these should be avoided.
Different types of acne spots?
- Whiteheads: firm spots, hard to squeeze
- Blackheads: black spots, commonly thought of as filled with dirt however they get their colour from pigmentation of the hair follicle’s inner lining instead.
- Pustules: small, red spots that feel sore
- Papules: red spots with a white centre caused by a build-up of pus
- Nodules: painful, large hard spots under the skin
- Cysts: large, pus-filled bumps that can cause scarring often requiring treatment with antibiotics.
Unfortunately acne cannot be cured however its symptoms can be controlled. Topical treatments include peeling agents like Benzoyl Peroxide products (Panoxyl, Acnecide), Topical Retinoids (Tretinoin, Isotretinoin, Adapalene) and treatments with multiple active ingredients (Epiduo, Duac). These medications work by reducing skin inflammation, reducing the amount of existing spots and blackheads, and killing bacteria.
Severe acne can also be treated with antibiotics. Like the topical treatments it can take up to eight weeks to see the results of the treatment.