What is acne?

Acne is a common condition in teenagers. It presents with ‘blackheads’, pimples and pustules on the face. Severe acne can also affect the neck, back and chest, and results in cysts and scarring. Acne is more common in boys, especially if there is a family history of acne and greasy skins. Acne may cause embarrassment and emotional problems.

At puberty, sex hormones result in an increase in secretion from sebaceous glands. This causes acne in some people. The ducts of the sebaceous glands become blocked (giving blackheads) and bacterial colonisation in the glands breaks down the sebaceous secretions causing inflammation (pimples) and pus formation (pustules). Diet has no affect on acne. Acne cannot be cured but the severity can be controlled until it clears spontaneously in adulthood. Acne is not infectious and not caused by poor hygiene (not washing).

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