General information

Acne results from blocked hair follicles (usually from excess sebum (oil) production and accumulated dead skin cells).  This triggers inflammation and infection.  There is more than one form of acne, including inflammatory, and nodulocystic.  Acne is also classed as mild, moderate or severe.

Who is prone to acne?

Acne usually affects adolescents and young adults, with males and females and all races affected equally. However, children and any-age adults can also sometimes be affected.

What are the causes of acne?

Acne is caused by a number of elements. These include hormones, hair follicles that accumulate dead skin cells, immune factors, inherited elements, and bacteria. 

Acne episodes can be triggered by certain medications, high humidity, polycystic ovaries, high glycaemic and dairy foods and certain makeups and skin creams.

What does acne look like?

Acne is usually found on the face but can also affect the chest, neck and back.  It consists of:

  • blackheads and whiteheads
  • red or brown flat patches or scars from the acne healing process
  • inflamed (red, swollen and tender) bumps and pus containing lumps (spots)
  • big, hard lumps (nodules) and cysts in severe acne
  • impacts on social life
  • mental health issues

How do we treat acne?

Mild acne

  • First line prescription topical creams and/or washes. These have potential side effects such as irritation and are not usually tolerated long-term.
  • Medical grade cosmeceuticals (skin-care creams), e.g. OSMOSIS (available at The Chandler Clinic)
  • Prescription tablets, e.g. certain contraceptive pills. These have potential side effects.
  • Laser or IPL (intense pulse light) treatments.

Moderate acne

  • As above and in addition prescription tablets, e.g. certain antibiotics (usually for around 6 months) or specific hormone tablets (for those women who find the contraceptive pill not helpful for their skin).
  • Second line prescription creams (vitamin A derived creams) are also used for acne resistant to the above measures. However these have potential side effects such as irritation and are not usually tolerated long-term.

Severe acne

  • Prescription tablets such as antibiotics (at a higher dose) or an oral vitamin A derived tablet may be needed. . These have potentially serious side effects.
  • Referral to a dermatologist if not responding to the above treatment and/or there are generalised symptoms, e.g. widespread severe acne, painful bones or joints, feverish.
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