For some people, acne can be a continuing problem well beyond their twenties.
People with acne often have larger sebaceous glands and produce more sebum (a waxy/oily substance that prevents the hair and skin from drying out) than people with unaffected skin. Hair follicles can become blocked, providing an ideal environment for bacteria to grow and causing the skin to become irritated and inflamed.
Acne most commonly occurs on the face and neck, but can also appear in other areas like the back, chest, backside and arms.
Acne is a common skin condition and, because it is caused by hormonal changes resulting in increased oil (sebum) production, it usually begins at puberty.
Acne comes in two forms:
- Non-inflamed acne - comprises blackheads or whiteheads which result from oil glands becoming blocked. Dermatologists call these 'comedones". If left untreated, non-inflamed acne can often progress into inflamed acne.
- Inflamed acne - is associated with pimples (which are classified by dermatologists as papules, pustules or cysts, possibly associated with redness of the skin).
Unfortunately, cystic acne can lead to permanent scarring, and so should be treated as soon as possible.
Hormones and stress are among the factors that can exacerbate acne.
If acne is not treated effectively, scarring can appear after acne subsides. Acne can also lead to problems with self-image and self-esteem.
Many people think that leaving acne to 'run its course' is the best course of action.
However, most forms of acne are responsive to treatment and your dermatologist can work with you to advise you on a range of interventions to help your skin.
Acne Treatment & Tips
Potential treatments that a dermatologist might recommend include:
- skin care
- prescription creams
- prescription tablets including antibiotics or a stronger medication based on Vitamin A such as isotretinoin (Roaccutane©, Oratane©)
If you have acne, or you know someone who is suffering from acne, it is important to observe the following tips:
- Don't squeeze acne spots, this can cause infection and worsen the condition
- Avoid greasy skin care products which may add to blocking oil glands. Use of toners may just dry out your skin, leading to more use of moisturizers, which are not necessary
- Do not use harsh chemicals as these may irritate and inflame your skin further
- Blackheads do not comprise dirt, it is just oxidized sebum and do not need to be scrubbed vigorously
- Seek advice from a dermatologist