Understanding Acne

Acne - a skin disease that involves the oil glands at the base of hair follicles

Acne is a common skin complaint that usually affects those between the ages of 11 and 30. In some people acne will continue into adult life, with around 5% of women and 1% of men continuing to get acne over the age of 25.  Most people will experience mild acne at some point, but around 30% may get more severe acne which can lead to scarring

What causes Acne?
Acne most commonly occurs on the face, chest and back. 

In mild to moderate acne, pores in the skin become blocked causing spots known as blackheads and whiteheads.  In more severe acne an oily substance known as sebum gets trapped and increases the number of bacteria in the skin, causing an immune system reaction which leads to inflammation of the skin.  When inflammation develops, spots become larger and pus-filled and some may form into nodules or cysts.

Acne is thought to be linked to hormonal changes in the body.  This is why it commonly begins during puberty.  There are many myths about acne which are not backed up by evidence – it does not seem to be caused by lack of cleanliness or what you eat.

How to treat acne
It is important to wash your skin twice daily with a mild soap or cleanser.  Don't scrub your skin, or use anything that irritates your skin as this can increase inflammation.  It's also important not to wash excessively at this can make spots worse – twice daily is fine.

For mild to moderate acne, there are a wide range of creams and gels that can help soothe inflammation and redness, and help shorten the life-span of the spot.  Some acne treatments contain benzoyl peroxide such as Acnecide, which is a common non-prescription option.

More severe acne may require presciption topical treatments or antibiotics to clear up and help prevent scarring. We recommend visiting your local GP to discuss your requirements.