Acne is a common inflammatory skin condition affecting a pilo-sebaceous unit (hair follicle and sebaceous gland).
Although acne is most common among teenagers (80% of teenagers affected) it can persist into, or develop during, adulthood:
- 64% have acne during 20–29 years of age,
- 40-43% have acne at 30–39 years of age,
- 3–5% have acne at 40–49 years of age
The mean age of patients seeking clinical treatment for acne is 24 years.
Features of Acne
- Greasy skin
- Non- inflammatory lesions (blackheads/comedones)
- Inflammatory lesions (pustules and nodules)
- Post-inflammatory hyper/ hypopigmentation (uneven skin colour)
- Skin irritation and pain due to inflammation
- Scarring (small ice pick scars, unsightly large scars and keloid (bulky hard raised) scars)
- Negative psychosocial and emotional effect
- Low self-esteem
Treatments for Acne
The aim of treatment is to restore healthy skin and beauty and to prevent scarring. Prompt treatment will control inflammation first and then in turn treat all lesions of acne. If treatment is delayed an uneven colour, texture and scarring may develop and will require additional therapies.
Acne treatment will depend on the severity, distribution and co-morbidities (any underlying health problems) as well as the age of the patient and their skin type. Commonly used treatments are:
- Topical anti-acne preparations (Antibiotics and antiseptics )
- Anti-inflammatory effects to calm red, inflamed skin
- Anti-oxidants to protect cells from damage by free radicals
- Comedolytics to unplug blocked follicles (comedones)
- Keratolytics to peel off surface scale (exfoliants)
- Agents that affect keratinisation, i.e., that normalise skin cell maturation)Antibiotics such as tetracyclines
- Treatment for severe acne may require a course of oral isotretinoin
Useful facts about Acne
- Frequently acne flares up on discontinuation of oral contraceptive pill
- Sometimes acne can be associated with Rosacea and Polycystic Ovarian Disease, which may need to be treated
- Occasionally acne can be induced by steroid treatment for eczema or other diseases requiring steroid therapy
- Importantly, severe acne may require more than one type of treatment; these may need to be repeated over time.