Acne is a common skin condition that affects most people at some point. It causes spots to develop on the skin, usually on the face, back and chest. The severity can range from mild to severe.
Most people have acne on and off for several years before their symptoms start to improve as they get older. Acne usually disappears when a person is in their twenties. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy and menstrual periods can also cause or contribute to acne.
The spots can range from blackheads and whiteheads which can range from mild, to inflamed pus-filled pustules and cysts. It is caused when glands in the skin begin to produce excessive amounts of oil (sebum) which blocks small holes in the skin through which hairs grow, causing blackheads and whiteheads. As a rule, the more sebum that you make, the greasier your skin feels, and the worse acne is likely to be.
Some people make more sebum than others. In mild to moderate acne, pores become blocked due to the skin at the top of the pores becoming thicker, combined with dead skin cells that are shed into the pores. Sebum then collects under blocked pores.
In moderate-to-severe acne, trapped sebum is ideal for some types of bacterium to grow. If a large number develop in the trapped sebum, the immune system may react and cause inflammation. If inflammation develops, it causes the surrounding skin to become red, and the spots become larger and filled with pus.
Aside from scarring, the main effects of acne are psychological, such as reduced self-esteem and in very extreme cases, depression.
Acne treatments fall into the following categories:
The oral contraceptive pill
You will be assessed in clinic to decide what is your best option.