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Acne (also known as “Acne Vulgaris”) is a long term, inflammatory skin condition that occurs when small holes in your skin, known as hair follicles, become clogged and blocked with dead skin cells and natural sebum oil. Acne usually starts to affect people during puberty and resolves by the early twenties, but can last much longer. In acne, your sebaceous glands (small glands under the skin for lubricating your hair and skin) produce too much sebum oil, which in turn mixes with dead skin cells to block your hair follicles. The resulting excess oil provides an ideal growing environment for a bacterium called P. acnes, which is naturally present and harmless but in cases of acne can build up and cause inflammation.
Acne is characterised by red or white spots (papules and pustules), boils (cysts), blackheads and whiteheads (comedones) on the surface of the skin, and primarily affects the areas of the skin with a higher number of sebaceous glands; including the face, upper chest and back. The severity of acne is classified as mild, moderate or severe as this helps to determine an appropriate and effective treatment plan. Moderate and severe cases of acne often require the specialist attention of a dermatologist. Is acne having a negative impact on your life? Is your self-esteem at an all-time low? Is it affecting your self-confidence? Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Visit us at either of our London skin clinics where we offer a wide range of skin treatments to help you enjoy life with clear skin.
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.
There are different types of acne, that each affect different people at a range of ages, for a range of different reasons.
In a simple answer; Yes. However, while acne can run in families, most cases tend to be sporadic and occur for unknown reasons. Genetics play a huge role in determining how your immune system responds to p. acnes bacteria; while one person might develop minor comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), another person might develop painful and inflamed papules and pustules. Genetics also play a role in how easily your pores become blocked, you could suffer from a hereditary tendency to overproduce dead skin cells, and then shed them away, causing your pores to become blocked and acne to develop.
While genetics can play a role in determining whether or not you’re more likely to suffer from acne, acne genetics are quite random and unpredictable. Even in the case of identical twins, both twins may suffer differently from acne. One might develop tiny blackheads and a few small pimples, while the other twin might develop painful cysts and nodules. It’s also worth remembering that acne isn’t just genetic, and can be influenced by the environment, as well as your general lifestyle.
The number of treatments available to you depends on the type of acne you’re suffering from, as well as the severity. For mild to moderate acne, topical treatments like 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. Chemical peels (Sometimes known as “skin peels”) can also be used to strip dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, but these can also come with side effects, and not every type of acne can be treated with a chemical peel; so before you do anything, ensure you consult a dermatologist or GP. 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.
Acne cannot be “cured” per say, instead it can be successfully treated and controlled with a course of treatment and a strict routine. The closest you’re likely to come to a cure for acne is oral isotretinoin.
Not all cases of acne require you to visit a dermatologist; minor cases can often be dealt with using over-the-counter products and a little TLC at home. Here are our tips for clearer, healthier skin from the comfort of your own home: