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What is Acne?

Acne is a common skin condition, characterised by outbreaks of lesions known as pimples and blackheads or whiteheads which are more commonly encountered on the face, shoulders, neck, back, and chest. This condition can cause permanent marks on the skin and spoil the appearance of skin although it is not a serious threat to health. Acne are particularly common in women, especially in adolescents.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

Acne are manifested on the skin in the following forms:

  • Whiteheads or blackheads or small swelling (papules)
  • A smaller blister (pustules) or pimples with a red base and pus-filled.
  • Painful small rounded lumps (nodules) which are deeply situated in the skin and cause scarring
  • Cavity or cysts which are mainly filled with pus and can heal with scarring on the skin.

What are the main causes?

The various factors causing acne include:

  • Fast growth of bacteria P. acnes.
  • Changes in the male (androgens) and female sex hormones (oestrogen), causing blockage and inflammation of pores.
  • Hormonal changes due to changes in the use of birth control pills (starting or stopping) and pregnancy.
  • Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD)
  • Lifestyle factors which include:

How is it diagnosed?

  • Complete examination of the affected areas helps in the diagnosis of acne. To diagnose acne with their cause following tests are suggested:
  • Blood tests, as well as ultrasound scans to detect PCOS, are used.

Treatment of acne is a long process taking time to heal and essentially requires good skin care.

Some of the effective acne control methods prescribed by a physician include:

  • Use of antibiotics: which could be oral or topical (applied directly to the skin) having an anti-inflammatory effect and help to reduce acne-causing bacteria.
  • Salicylic acid and topical application of benzoyl peroxide are commonly used to treat mild acne.
  • Isotretinoin tablets: These are used in cases of severe acne as the most effective treatment, they unblock and prevent further blockage of pores, thereby oiliness is reduced and there is a soothing effect.
  • Light or biophotonic therapy is used to treat mild to moderate inflammatory acne.
  • Hormone-regulating therapy which includes low or very low dose oestrogen and anti-androgen contraceptive pills to treat acne in women.
  • Topical or oral retinoids are used as the treatment for unblocking pores as well as preventing new blockages.
  • Retinoid plus benzoyl peroxide combination therapy can also be used.

Some self-care tips:

  • Cleansing face twice daily with a mild ‘soap free’ liquid face cleanser.
  • Choose a face cleanser which is free of rough substances used to clean deeply (abrasives) and alcohol.
  • The pH of the face cleanser should be well balanced.
  • A product which is tried and tested for not blocking the tiny holes (pores) in the skin should be used.
  1. Medicines for Pimples (Acne)
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