What is Acne?
Acne (Acne vulgaris) is a skin condition which affects most of us at some point in our lives, usually beginning at puberty and continuing into the twenties. A minority of people develop acne later in life. Characteristic lesions commonly appear on the face, neck and upper torso.
What are the characteristics lesions of Acne?
Blackhead (open comedo) - hair follicle blocked by sebum (oil) and dead skin cells
Whitehead - closed comedo i.e. covered by skin
Papule - red bump or pimple
Pustule - pimple containing pus)
Nodule - hard lump deep in the skin
Cyst - infected nodule
Acne can leave scars and pigmentary irregularities.
What causes acne?
Sebaceous glands in the skin may overproduce oil and the lining of hair follicles may also thicken as a result of an overactive response to hormonal changes which begin around puberty, leading to the skin lesions described and an overgrowth of a normal skin surface resident bacterium, Cutibacterium acnes which can lead to inflammation and pus formation.
Treatment of Acne
• Cleansers containing Salicylic* or Azelaic acid help to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells
• Topical Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3)
• Topical Retinoids (Vitamin A derivatives e.g. Retinol, Retinyl Palmitate)
• Benzoyl peroxide applied to treat individual papule
• Oral antibiotics
• Certain types of oral contraceptive pill
• Oral Retinoids - a treatment available only under supervision of a Dermatologist
Treatments for Acne Scars
• Chemical peels
• Steroid injections
Avoid over cleansing of the skin and avoid harsh products (in particular those containing sulphates). Opt instead for emollients which do not damage the skin’s natural barriers.
Dietary modification; sugary, processed and starchy foods and in some people dairy products may aggravate acne. It may be worth keeping a diet and symptoms diary to see if excluding these has an impact on your symptoms.
Recommended Products for Acne prone skin
• iS Clinical Cleansing Complex
• iS Clinical Pro Heal Serum +
• iS Clinical Tri-Active Exfoliating Masque
Although acne is not considered a serious threat to physical health, its impact on mental health is well documented. Acnesupport.org.uk is an online resource containing more comprehensive information and support.