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CONDITIONS A-Z

Acne

Acne_OverviewAcne is a skin condition that develops in the pores around the hair follicles and oil producing glands. Acne is most common in the 14 - 19 year age group although people in their 20's and 30's may also suffer from acne.

Surveys in the UK reveal that nearly 3 in every 10 teenagers suffer from severe acne and require treatment to prevent scarring.


Acne Overview

Acne is a skin disorder resulting from inflammation of skin glands and hair follicles. It is characterised by the appearance of pimples mostly on the face, back and chest. It occurs with equally among both men and women, and is most intense in teenagers around 17 years of age.

Common Causes of Acne

Acne is caused by an increased level of specific hormones (androgens) usually during puberty. Because of higher hormone levels, the sebaceous glands in the hair follicles produce excessive sebum (oil), and there is greater turnover of skin cells lining the follicles.

Normally sebum helps to remove dead cells from hair follicles. It also spreads over the skin to lubricate and protect it. When too much sebum is produced, and the extra cells clump together, the resultant plug (comedo) blocks the opening of the hair follicles.

The blockages lead to mild forms of acne and blackheads. Pimples, pustules, nodules and deep cysts are more severe forms of acne involving follicle wall breakdown, inflammation, redness and puss. Deeper skin layers are affected and pain and scarring can result

Main Symptoms of Acne

Acne may be classified as inflammatory or non-inflammatory and may appear in one of several forms, ranging from whiteheads to pus-filled cysts. People with inflamed acne may suffer skin damage and scarring so it's worth treating as soon as possible. Bacterial inflammation causes redness, swelling and pain in the affected areas.

Common Acne Treatments

A wide range of effective treatments are available for the treatment of acne. They come in two forms; topical treatments (applied to the skin) and oral medicines (taken by mouth). While mild acne usually responds to self-care measures and topical treatments, more severe cases may require prescription drugs. Although several treatment options are available, treatment in the more severe cases may need to be continued for at least 6-8 weeks before results are visible.

The right treatment can reduce the risk that your skin will be damaged or scarred from acne. Treatment products work by removing follicle plugs and opening blocked pores, removing excess grease and bacteria, and reducing inflammation - the factors that lead to the development of acne.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the best treatment for you. More on acne treatments.

What Makes Acne Worse?

  • Hormones, especially in women just before their period.

  • Some medicines and contraceptive pills

  • Oil based skin care and make-up products

  • Excessive sweating

  • Scratching, squeezing or picking pimples

  • Clothing that rubs your skin

  • Working with oils or greases, and jobs that make you sweaty and hot

  • Some people believe that certain foods such as chocolate can cause acne or make it worse. There is actually no evidence to prove this.

Acne can be controlled. You should cleanse your skin gently twice daily to control excess oil. Skin cleansers and medicated washes containing antiseptic agents, are useful in de-greasing the skin and reducing bacteria on the skins surface. More on skin cleansers

Prevention / Self help

Preventive measures can help manage your acne once a breakout has been controlled. These include avoiding heavy make up, all of which should be removed before bed time, showering regularly, especially after exercise, and using skin care products to rid the skin of excessive oil.

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Acne Index

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