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Acne vulgaris is an extremely common skin
problem which affects around 85% of teenagers,
especially males. It occurs mostly on the face,
but also affects the back, chest and
Acne tends to start developing during
puberty when the production of sex hormones
increases causing an over-production of oil in
the sebaceous glands. For most people, acne
decreases or disappears in their early
twenties, although some do continue to suffer
well into their thirties or forties.
It’s true that not all teenagers get acne.
So why do some people get acne and other people
don’t? Although it’s not fully understood why
this is the case, family history is thought
that the main reason. If one of your parents
suffered with acne, then there is a high risk
that you may too.
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Other causes are increased stress levels, bacteria in pores,
blocked pores, certain medications and exposure to toxins.
Developing acne as an adult is uncommon. However, women may get
acne if they suffer with polycystic ovaries or they are going
through the menopause.
The symptoms of acne can vary from mild to severe. Mild to
moderate acne consists of whiteheads, blackheads, papules (red,
tender bumps) and pustules (inflamed, pus filled spots).
More severe acne is characterized by nodules and cysts.
Nodules are larger and more painful than papules and scarring
is common. Cysts are similar to nodules, but are pus filled and
Another form of acne is acne
rosacea which is similar to acne vulgaris, but is confined
to the face and accompanied by bumps and pimples, although not
There is a wide range of treatment options available for
acne with the aim of preventing new spots forming, reducing
those present and preventing scarring. The appropriate
treatment depends on the severity of the acne.
Mild acne, which is limited to blackheads and whiteheads and
has no skin inflammation, is treated with over-the-counter
preparations that contain benozyl peroxide, an antibacterial
agent found in products like Oxy and Clearasil Max. Other
popular over-the-counter medication is sulfur, marketed as
Novacet or Sulfacet. Sulfur has been used to treat acne for
hundreds of years. Topical retinoids, a derivative of Vitamin
A, are prescribed to help get rid of blackheads and
Moderate acne, where inflamed papules and pustules are
present, is treated using topical medication. Topical
antibiotics such as Clindamycin and Erythromycin are the most
frequently prescribed topical treatments because they help to
Severe acne is usually treated with oral antibiotics such as
tetracycline to prevent the growth of bacteria and to reduce
inflammation. Some large cysts, unfortunately, do not respond
to medication and may need to be drained and extracted. This
procedure should never be done at home, but by a dermatologist
under sterile conditions.
With severe acne scarring may occur and there are many
treatment options available to get rid of acne scars such as
laser resurfacing, subcision, chemical peels and
There are, of course, many self-help techniques that can be
used at home to help treat and prevent acne. It’s important to
keep your skin clean by washing the affected areas at least
twice a day with fragrance-free products. Make sure that you do
not rub too hard since this can damage the skin. It’s also
vital that you don’t pick pimples or spots since this can cause
Herbal remedies such as tea tree oil and licorice root
extract contain natural anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial
properties which can help the skin. Also burdock has been used
historically to treat skin conditions and there is some
evidence to show that 2 to 4ml of burdock root tincture per day
Finally, eating a healthy diet is highly recommended. For
many years there has been a belief that diet doesn’t cause acne
and therefore can’t cure it. However, in a recent Australian
study, researchers found a solid link between diet and acne.
They believe that carbohydrates with a high glycemic index may
influence the development and severity of acne. Eating foods of
low glycemic index, such as whole grain breads and pasta,
legumes and certain fruits and vegetables, seemed to improve
acne. Interestingly, a typical teenage diet consists of sugary
drinks and snacks, white bread and potatoes which are all foods
with a high glycemic index.Unfortunately, there isn’t an
instant cure for acne and many acne treatments may take some
time to work, anywhere between two to six months. The answer is
to be patient and to follow treatment advice. I recommend that
you check out the Acne No More System which is
guaranteed to work in two months. If you acne still
doesn’t improve, then it’s advisable to talk to your
dermatologist or pharmacist.