Dr Julia Sen, Consultant Ophthalmic Plastic, Reconstructive & Cosmetic Surgeon
    Dr Julia Sen, Consultant Ophthalmic Plastic, Reconstructive & Cosmetic Surgeon


      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
      • Microneedling
      • Steroid injections
      • Laser


      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.

      Click here to find out more.


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