What is acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that affects most people at some point. It causes spots, oily skin and sometimes skin that's hot or painful to touch.

Acne most commonly develops on the:

  • face – this affects almost everyone with acne

  • back – this affects more than half of people with acne

  • chest – this affects about 15% of people with acne

Types of spots

There are six main types of spot caused by acne:

  • blackheads – small black or yellowish bumps that develop on the skin; they're not filled with dirt, but are black because the inner lining of the hair follicle produces pigmentation (colouring)

  • whiteheads – have a similar appearance to blackheads, but may be firmer and won't empty when squeezed

  • papules – small red bumps that may feel tender or sore

  • pustules – similar to papules, but have a white tip in the centre, caused by a build-up of pus

  • nodules – large hard lumps that build up beneath the surface of the skin and can be painful

  • cysts – the most severe type of spot caused by acne; they're large pus-filled lumps that look similar to boils and carry the greatest risk of causing permanent scarring

Why do I have acne?

Acne is most commonly linked to the changes in hormone levels during puberty, but can start at any age.

Certain hormones cause the grease-producing glands next to hair follicles in the skin to produce larger amounts of oil (abnormal sebum).

This abnormal sebum changes the activity of a usually harmless skin bacterium called P. acnes, which becomes more aggressive and causes inflammation and pus.

The hormones also thicken the inner lining of the hair follicle, causing blockage of the pores (opening of the hair follicles). Cleaning the skin doesn't help to remove this blockage.

Other possible causes

Acne is known to run in families. If both your mother and father had acne, it's likely that you'll also have acne.

Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during the menstrual cycle or pregnancy, can also lead to episodes of acne in women.

There's no evidence that diet, poor hygiene or sexual activity play a role in acne.

Who's affected?

Acne is very common in teenagers and younger adults. About 80% of people aged 11 to 30 are affected by acne.

Acne is most common in girls from the ages of 14 to 17, and in boys from the ages of 16 to 19.

Most people have acne on and off for several years before their symptoms start to improve as they get older. Acne often disappears when a person is in their mid-twenties.

In some cases, acne can continue into adult life. About 5% of women and 1% of men have acne over the age of 25.

What treatments can I have?

We have a number of treatments depending on your skin type that may be suitable for you.

17 THE QUADRANT ARCADE
ROMFORD, RM1 3ED
TEL. 01708 922 205
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