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Acne can have a profound psychological effect on sufferers. It is common and affects up to 95% of people at some point in their life. Acne is predominantly seen in teenagers however adults can also be affected into and beyond their 40’s. Acne can appear a number of ways. Papules are small, inflamed lumps that are pink, tender and non-pustular. Pustules which are small, inflamed, tender, pustular red lumps. Nodules are large, spherical painful lumps located in the dermis. Cysts are also large, painful, pustular lumps located deep in the skin and can cause acne scarring.

Multiple factors contribute to the formation of acne. In reality the cause of acne varies between and within individuals. The following factors have been identified. Sebaceous glands make an oily substance called sebum which flows onto the skin through the hair follicle pore. Hormones control this process. The largest number and size of glands are found on the chest, face, back and shoulders. During puberty there is an increase in male hormones which increases the production of sebum. In females this increase in sebum production occurs just after ovulation and acne break outs are seen just before the period. The follicles become blocked by dead skin cells which combined with the over activity of the sebaceous glands causes a blockage of the hair follicle pores creating whiteheads (closed comedone) and blackheads (open comedone). Bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) then enter the blocked pores. Inflammation, redness and pus occur forming a pimple.

Early and individualised treatments are vital to manage acne and prevent complications such as acne scarring. The causes and presentations of acne vary between individuals. Treatment needs to focus on the immediate problem and prevent future outbreaks.

An assessment of the skin and general health needs to be made to formulate the best plan of management for each individual. Treatment of acne requires patience, balance and care. Some treatments can be harmful if used incorrectly.

Current outbreaks can be managed with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and steroids (infrequently used).

Treatment programmes require a regime running over a minimum of 8 weeks and multiple modalities are often needed. The causes of acne are targeted.

Treatment includes the use of retinoids, salicylic acid and alpha hydroxyl acids (medical grade peels) to allow dead skin cells to turn over and pores to unclog. These medications can be administered topically or orally for cystic acne.

Antibiotics and benzoyl peroxide are used to eliminate the bacteria involved in causing acne and reduce inflammation. Light therapy is also efficacious in managing the bacterial aspect of acne.

Inflammation associated with acne is also treated with salicylic acid peels and skin care

Sebum production can be reduced by using oral and topical retinoids. Hormonal stabilisation using oral contraceptive pills in females and anti-androgens.

Skin care. Dry skin exacerbates acne and prevents treatments from working well. Gentle non-abrasive and non-drying facial washes and moisturisers are important to prevent drying of the skin. The appropriate cosmetics to prevent blocked pores are important. Both in clinic and home care work well with other treatments to manage acne.

Other treatments available at Le Sands Clinic to help in the fight against acne include skin needling, laser genesis and light therapy.

ACNE is a complex problem. The causes vary between individuals. Treatment required is based on assessing the skin and the possible causes of acne. An individualised treatment plan is the key to overcoming acne. Contact Le Sands Clinic on 02 9567 0399 or email us to book your free consultation with one of our skin specialists.We look forward to helping you overcome this distressing problem and moving on to the next exciting phase of your life.

Call us on 02 9567 0399 or e-mail us on

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