ACNE usually starts in puberty, but it affects adults too. Around 80 percent of teenagers get some form of acne, and there are many myths about what causes it. Here are the facts and details of treatments.
Acne consists of spots and painful bumps on the skin. Ita��s most noticeable on the face, but can also appear on the back, shoulders and buttocks. Severe acne can cause scarring.
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Acne is mostly caused by the way skin reacts to hormonal changes. The skin contains sebaceous glands that naturally release sebum, an oily substance that helps protect it.
During puberty, raised levels of the hormone testosterone can cause too much sebum to be produced. This happens in both boys and girls.
The sebum can block hair follicles. When dead skin cells mix with the blockage, it can lead to the formation of spots.
Bacteria in the skin multiply, which can cause pain and swelling (inflammation) beneath the blockages.
There are different kinds of spots:
blackheads a�� small, blocked pores
whiteheads a�� small, hard bumps with a white centre
pustules a�� spots with a lot of pus visible
nodules a�� hard, painful lumps under the skin
Treatments for acne
Acne will usually go away on its own, but it can take many years. There are treatments for acne that can help clear it more quickly.
Over-the-counter treatments that you buy from a pharmacy can help with mild acne. Ask a pharmacist for advice on which treatment could help and how long you will have to use it. You may not see results for several weeks or months. Find your nearest pharmacy.
If over-the-counter treatments dona��t help, treatments are available on prescription. Your GP can assess how bad your acne is and discuss the options with you. Dona��t be afraid to tell your GP how your acne affects your life and how it makes you feel.
Mild, non-inflammatory acne consists of whiteheads and blackheads. Treatments include gels or lotions that can contain retinoids (vitamin A), topical (applied to the skin) antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide (which is antibacterial) or azelaic acid.
These medications, or a combination of them, can also be used to treat mild-to-moderate inflammatory acne, which has some pustules and nodules. It can take up to eight weeks before you see a difference in your skin, and treatment may need to be continued for six months.
In women, contraceptive pills that contain oestrogen can also help clear acne. a�� www.nhs.uk