Acne is a chronic skin disorder in which there is inflammation of the sebaceous gland at the base of hair follicles in the skin.
The most common type of acne is sometimes known as acne vulgaris, which almost always develops during puberty. Chemical acne is caused by exposure of the skin to certain chemicals and oils. This results in the development of acne in areas where the chemical has come into contact with the skin, such as on the thighs. Certain prescribed drugs, such as corti-costeroid drugs, can also cause acne.
Acne spots are caused by the obstruction of hair follicles by excess sebum (the oily substance secreted by the seba-ceous glands). Bacteria multiply in the follicle, causing inflammation. Hor-monal changes at puberty, including increased levels of androgen hormones (male sex hormones) in both males and females, stimulate the production of
sebum. There may also be a genetic pre-disposition to acne.
Acne develops in areas in which there is a high concentration of sebaceous glands, mainly the face, centre of the
chest, upper back, shoulders, and around the neck. Milia (whiteheads), comedones (blackheads), nodules (firm
swellings under the skin), and cysts (larger, fluid-filled swellings) are the most common types of spot. Some, par-ticularly cystic spots, leave scars.
TREATMENT AND OUTLOOK
There is no instant cure for acne,although washing the affected areas at least twice a day with a mild soap may help to keep it under control. Over-the-counter topical drug treatments such as benzoyl peroxide or azelaic acid are often effective. Prescribed topical antibiotic drugs or retinoic acid (a derivative of vitamin A) are used to treat moderate
acne. Alternative treatment is with oral antibiotics, often tetracycline drugs. In very severe cases, isotretinoin may be given under hospital supervision. In all cases, exposure to ultraviolet light (either natural or artificial) may also be beneficial. However, it is important not to burn the skin. Acne improves slowly over time, and it often clears up by the end of the teenage years.