Acne is a common skin condition that affects up to 80% of people between the ages of 11 and 30. Acne causes spots and oily skin. The skin can be hot or painful to touch. It usually develops on the face,back and chest. It is most commonly linked to the changes in hormone levels during puberty, but can start at any age.
Acne is caused by hair follicles becoming blocked due to the overproduction of sebum from glands in the follicle. This excess sebum mixes with dead skin cells and forms a blockage in the hair follicle. Normally harmless bacteria that live on the skin can then contaminate and infect the plugged follicles, causing papules, pustules, nodules or cysts. Acne is not caused by poor hygiene or diet.
Treatment for acne depends on how severe it is. It can take several months of treatment before symptoms improve. Over the counter products containing benzoyl peroxide prevent dead skin plugging the hair follicles and also kills the bacteria on the skin that cause the follicles to become infected. They should be applied sparingly once or twice a day 20 minutes after washing. If your acne is severe, your doctor can prescribe topical creams and gels or oral antibiotics. Often a combination of both is used. Some women experience acne flare ups around the time of their period or due to hormonal conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome. Your doctor may recommend the combined oral contraceptive pill in such cases, even if you are not sexually active.