Acne is a disorder of the sebaceous glands in
the skin. The sebaceous glands produce an oil
called ‘sebum’, which is generally secreted into
hair follicles before being transported to the
surface of the skin. Sebum helps to maintain
the skin’s moisture and flexibility, and keeps it
Acne occurs when the duct of the sebaceous
gland becomes blocked, forming either pimples
(pustules) or deep cysts. It also occurs when
hair follicles become blocked with keratin (a
protein produced by the skin), leading to the
formation of whiteheads and blackheads (also
WHO GETS ACNE?
Acne can occur at any age. It is most common around the time
of puberty, when hormones cause the sebaceous glands to grow
and produce more sebum, and continues through adolescence.
It affects some people more than others; the reason for this is
Acne tends to develop in boys around 13 to 16 years of age, and
is often at its worst at 18 - 19 years of age. Girls start puberty
earlier, so they tend to develop acne at a younger age, the peak
often occurring around 14 years of age.
It is reasonably common for acne to continue into adulthood or develop
for the first time in adults.
WHERE DOES ACNE OCCUR?
Sebaceous glands are found mostly on the forehead, cheeks, chin, neck,
chest and back, and it is in these areas that acne most often occurs.
WHAT ARE THE BEST TREATMENTS?
In many cases, acne can be treated successfully with topical
(locally applied) anti-acne gels and lotions. Although it will vary
from person to person, acne may clear up by itself.
For moderate to severe acne, stronger medications may be
needed, which are usually taken in the form of tablets. Early
treatment is important, as it may prevent scarring, especially in
cases of severe acne. Discuss this with your doctor or ask to see
a dermatologist (skin specialist).
Rubbing a topical anti-acne cream, gel or lotion into the skin is
often adequate to reduce inflammation and unblock pores.
There are a range of active ingredients used to treat ac