Acne

Acne (acne vulgaris) is a very common skin condition affecting adolescents.

Overview

Acne (acne vulgaris) is a very common skin condition affecting adolescents. Increased production of oil in the skin (sebum) and blocked sebaceous glands/pores cause pimples and blackheads that can become severely inflamed. Hormonal changes during puberty play an important role in the formation of acne. Mild acne can be treated at home with gentle skin cleansing lotions etc., but if the problem persists, a doctor should be consulted.

Symptoms

Location

  • Face (forehead, cheeks, chin)
  • Breast (V shaped)
  • Back

Typical symptoms

  • Whiteheads and blackheads (comedones)
    • Skin-coloured bumps (closed)
    • Dark spot in the centre (open)
  • Inflammation, with reddened skin and pus-filled blisters

Complications

  • Increasing inflammation and formation of lumps under the skin
  • Spreads widely, also affecting the back and/or chest
  • Extensive collection of pus under the skin (abscess)
  • Formation of scars
    • Inappropriate squeezing
    • Lack of medical treatment for severe acne
  • Emotional distress and psychological strain caused by physical appearance of skin

Causes and treatment

Causes

Increased production of oil in the skin and blocked sebaceous glands/pores; various factors play a role:

  • Family predisposition
  • Hormonal changes (puberty, menstrual cycle, etc.)
  • Smoking
  • Stress and emotional distress
  • Medication (e.g. cortisone, psychotropic drugs)
  • Skin irritants (e.g. chlorine, oil, tar)
  • Ingredients in skincare products (cosmetics, shaving foam, shower gel)
  • Acne is NOT caused by:
    • Poor personal hygiene
    • Consuming certain foodstuffs
    • Contagion by other people

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible therapies
  • Topical application of vitamin A, possibly in combination with antibiotic skin cream
  • Antibiotics in tablet form, if necessary
  • Contraceptive pill as supporting hormone therapy
  • For severe acne: oral application of vitamin A (isotretinoin)
    • Only under strict medical supervision

What can I do myself?

Mild acne can be treated yourself

  • Thorough daily cleansing routine using a synthetic wash lotion
  • Skin peeling (once a week) with glycolic acid (fruit acid) or salicylic acid
  • Professional deep cleansing of pimples and blackheads by a cosmetician once a month
  • Squeezing and popping pimples and blackheads yourself is not recommended (but if you can't resist, make sure your fingers are clean)
  • Other:
    • Skin creams or gels containing benzoyl peroxide (available over the counter from the pharmacy)
    • Apply alcohol-free facial lotion with a cotton pad (to remove oil from skin)

When to see a doctor?

  • Always recommended for medium to severe forms of acne
    • Excessive sebum production
    • Acne over large areas
    • Inflamed bumps and abscesses
    • Formation of scars
  • Severe psychological strain
  • For treatment with vitamin A, antibiotics or the pill

Synonyms

acne, acne vulgaris

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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