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What is acne?
Acne is a very common skin disorder that most young people get during puberty. It is caused by inflammation of the oil glands (sebaceous glands) that surround the face, upper chest and back. For most people, acne tends to go away by the time they reach their mid-20s, however very sensitive people may continue to have acne till their 40s or 50s.

Hormonal changes related to pregnancy, menstrual periods and stress can also cause or contribute to acne.

What causes acne?

During puberty, the production of male sex hormones (androgens) increases in males and females, which can stimulate sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. This increased production makes the openings of the glands narrower, which prevents the sebum from getting out. Meanwhile the sebum production continues regardless.

Pimples are often caused by Propionebacterium acnes, a common bacterium on the skin. This bacteria causes inflammation of the sebaceous glands.

What are the symptoms?

Mild forms of acne presents as blackheads, whiteheads or as small, tender red spots. Severe acne are larger, more inflamed, pus-filled and may extend to the areas of the upper chest and back. Severe acne can cause scars which can psychological stress and be socially disabling.

What can make acne worse?

  • Stress or emotional tension
  • Menstrual periods
  • Certain medicines and chemicals, eg. Cocoa butter, lubricating oils etc
  • Food does NOT aggravate acne

When should the doctor be consulted?

  • If over the counter medications do not work after 6 weeks.
  • If acne causes psychological distress
  • If the acne are big, tender and causes scarring
  • If you have dark skin and dark patches from where the pimples used to be.

What is the treatments?

Acne can be treated with medications that are either applied to the skin or taken by mouth.

Removal of scars

Acne scars can be removed by microdermabrasion or laser treatment.

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