What is acne?
Acne, also known as acne vulgaris, is thought to be caused by multiple factors. Overproduction of a normal oil on the skin, increases under the influence of hormones. This, coupled with insufficient shedding of dead skin cells, plugs hair follicles. The plugged follicle can become inflamed and have increased growth of normal skin bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes.
Who’s at risk?
Acne affects 85–100% of people at some point in their lives, and it usually begins at puberty. Acne can persist into the 30s and beyond. In fact, 5% of people over 45 still have acne.
What are signs and symptoms of acne?
Acne results in a variety of lesions. The most common acne locations include the face, neck, chest, and back, where the most sebaceous glands are located. Along the jaw line is a common location in adults.
Acne can result in permanent scars, which can appear to be depressions in the skin or hyperpigmentation, which is dark red or brown flat marks where the acne lesions were.
When to seek professional help?
If you have moderate or severe acne that has not improved enough with self-care, seek medical help.
What are treatment options for my acne?
Topical (or external) treatments for acne include one or more creams, washes, or gels that include:
- Antibacterial agents and antibiotics such as benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin, erythromycin, sulfur, sodium sulfacetamide, and azelaic acid.
- Retinoids – vitamin A-derived products such as tretinoin, tazarotene, and adapalene.
Oral treatments may include:
- Antibiotics such as tetracycline, minocycline, doxycycline, erythromycin, ampicillin, clindamycin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, azithromycin, or cephalosporins.
- Oral contraceptives and spironolactone have been found to help regulate hormones.
Isotretinoin, a strong drug with many side effects, for severe acne unresponsive to the above treatments.