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Acne (Pimples)

Acne is a common teenage problem affecting almost 85% of people between 15- 25 years of age. It has a great psychosocial impact on the patient including decreased self-image, self confidence, embarrassment, difficulties with friends & family members and may even lead to depression.

Acne is a disease based on the oil glands in the skin (sebaceous glands) and their openings through which the oil (sebum) passes to the surface. These glands occur mainly on the face, back and chest, which are therefore the main sites for acne. 

The reason for spots !

Oil glands are controlled by the sex hormones and this is why acne arises at puberty.  Acne is usually due to an excessive response of the oil glands to normal hormone levels. 
Skin bacteria are important too in the formation of the red and yellow spots. After puberty, the skin of the face and upper trunk, with or without acne, contains bacteria.  These get into the ducts of the oil glands where they make chemicals which eventually escape into the deeper parts of the skin. This does not mean acne is infectious: it is not. It is due to the action of normal skin bacteria on the abnormal quantity and quality of oil produced by acne sufferers. Washing, or the lack of it, does not influence acne.

Factors which aggravate acne

Diet has probably no role in acne and poor personal hygiene does not worsen it. Squeezing spots usually aggravates the problem. Stress may also aggravate the problem. A flare of acne is common just before the monthly period. Pregnancy does not usually influence acne.
Acne may start later than usual: for example, in women aged more than 25 years.

Treatment of Acne

It is important to remember that acne lasts for many years but despite this, the spots can usually be kept under excellent control.
Most patients with mild acne will respond reasonably well to treatment applied to the skin (topical treatment). The commonly prescribed topical treatments include benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics, retinoic acid and azelaic acid.

There are three types of oral therapy (by mouth): antibiotics, hormones, and retinoids. Retinoid  therapy has revolutionized the treatment of acne. Pregnancy should be avoided in females on retinoid therapy.

Chemical peeling is a good treatment for acne, post acne pigmentation (dark spots) and mild post acne scars (pits).


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