What is it?

Acne usually arises in the greasy parts of one’s skin; these include the face, chest and back. There may be red or white spots (papules and pustules), boils (cysts), blackheads and whiteheads (comedones). Acne usually starts during puberty and resolves by the early twenties but may also last much longer. The severity of acne is classified as mild, moderate or severe. Acne can have profound effects on a person’s appearance and confidence.

It is a very common skin condition in which the hair follicles and sebaceous (oil-producing) glands are affected. The follicles get blocked which causes the formation of comedones. The resulting build-up of oil provides an ideal growing environment for a bacterium called P. acnes, which is naturally present and harmless but multiplies in acne and produces inflammation.

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How is it diagnosed?

In most cases, acne can be recognised by its appearance and distribution. However, there are multiple types of acne and it is important to distinguish between them as they may be treated differently. The most common type is acne vulgaris.

How is it treated?

The treatment depends on the type of acne as well as the severity. For mild to moderate acne, topical creams such as antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide or retinoids might be used. Oral antibiotics are another option. For females certain oral contraceptive pills can also prove effective. In the case of severe acne, oral isotretinoin may be indicated. It is important to diagnose and treat severe acne before it causes irreversible scarring.