What is it?
A common skin condition that causes spots, blackheads, whiteheads and oily skin.
Who gets it?
Most people are affected to some degree at some point in their life. It’s most common at puberty but can develop at any age.
What causes it?
It’s known to run in families and is linked to hormonal changes. Certain hormones cause the skin to produce larger amounts of sebum (oil), which changes the activity of a skin bacterium called P.acnes, resulting in inflammation and pus. The hormones also thicken the lining of the hair follicle, causing blocked pores.
What are the symptoms?
Acne ranges from mild to severe and scarring. It usually develops on the face, but also affects the back and chest. In more severe cases, hard, painful lumps called nodules build up under the skin. Pus-filled cysts can also develop, which sometimes leave permanent scars.
What are the best treatments?
There are a range of treatments that can help to control acne. If over-the-counter medication hasn’t helped, I can prescribe a combination of creams that contain ingredients such as antibiotics, vitamin A and salicylic acid. The next steps include one of a number of safe longterm antibiotics , considering the oral contraceptive pill, or other hormonal treatments. If your spots are persistent or scarring, then you may want to consider a course of vitamin A tablets called Isotretinoin.
"Thanks to Dr Clare, my skin has never looked this good. My adult acne began to improve after my first consultation — six months on, my complexion is clear enough to go without make-up."
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