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Acne Treatment


Acne Symptom and Treatment Guide

acne and hair follicles
acne vulgaris blemish

What is Acne?

Acne vulgaris, the most common form of acne, is an inflammatory disorder of the sebaceous glands.  Acne can involve the face, back, and chest; it is characterized by the presence of blackheads with papules and pustules, as well as the formation of cysts and scars in more severe cases.  Mild cases respond to topical therapy with benzoyl peroxide, while refractory conditions require treatment with long-term antibiotics or isotretinoin.  Alternatively, severe persistent acne may be treated by topical application of retinoids, which are synthetic vitamin A derivatives.  Anecdotal claims that a high fat or chocolate diet exacerbates acne symptoms have not been clinically proven.  Acne is common in both boys and girls at puberty; it does not normally continue beyond early adulthood.

What Causes Acne?

Acne blemishes are caused by an overproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands, stimulated by androgens.  This excess sebum, mixing with dust and dirt, blocks the skin pores and causes blackheads to form.  Some bacteria, normally present in hair follicles, then begin to proliferate abnormally and cause inflammation.  The blackheads develop into papules or elevated, pus-filled pustules.  If the follicle opening completely closes, bacteria degrades accumulated sebum and forms a cyst.

Acne Treatments and Medications

teenager treating facial acne symptoms
Acne is a common skin condition that can be treated with various topical and internal medications.  Medicated gauze pads like the one shown above can be helpful in cleansing the skin; these often contain benzoyl peroxide, which aids in drying excess oils and preventing future outbreaks.
Acne in adolescence results primarily from hormonal changes in the body that stimulate the production of sebum.  Outbreaks may sometimes be mitigated (but not prevented) by a controlled diet and the use of home remedies, antibacterial soap, or an acne product such as
Clearasil.  In adults, severe acne may be caused by an underlying endocrine disorder.

Another popular acne treatment is the Reversion acne control product.  Developed by a doctor who is also a board-certified plastic surgeon and chemist, Reversion can be effective for all levels of acne and blemishes.  Its two-step system can help prevent acne and control breakouts as well as repair and maintain skin elasticity.

Acne Control and Prevention

Dermatologists, skin care professionals, and nutritionists offer the following acne control and prevention tips for teenagers.

acne skin care

  • Wash your face and hands twice a day with mild soap, sulfur soap, or antibacterial soap.  Pat your face dry — do not rub it vigorously with a towel.
  • Do not use your unwashed fingers to squeeze, pop, or pick at acne lesions.  Bacteria and dirt from under your fingernails can spread the inflammations and worsen the acne.
  • Use only "non-comedogenic" cosmetics and skin care products that do not clog skin pores.
  • Wash your hair regularly.  If you have oily hair, wash it daily and keep it away from your face.
  • If you use a sports helmet, be sure to clean it regularly, especially interior helmet surfaces that come in contact with your skin.
  • Avoid acne irritants such as airborne grease from cooking activities.
  • If your acne condition worsens after eating certain foods, avoid eating those foods.
  • Use a topical, over-the-counter acne medication containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
  • Give acne control products time to work.  It may take a few days or weeks to see good results.
  • Some acne products can increase you skin's photosensitivity.  While using these products, avoid tanning booths and protect your skin from ultraviolet rays by wearing a hat and using sunscreen as needed.

Acne Information and Resources

acne pimple

  • Acne Questions and Answers
    This fact sheet contains general information about acne.  It describes what acne is and how it develops, the causes of acne, and the best treatment options for various forms of acne.  Information about caring for your skin is also provided.  From the National Institutes of Health.
  • eMJA: Acne and Acne Scarring
    This website presents reasons for early medical intervention, and acne scarring treatment options from the Medical Journal of Australia.
  • Acne Treatment Overview
    Find a general overview of acne and acne treatment approaches from the American Academy of Dermatology's Public Resource Center.

Acne Rosacea

There is another condition, known as acne rosacea or simply rosacea, in which certain facial blood vessels enlarge, giving the nose and cheeks a flushed, reddened appearance.  For more information about rosacea, see

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Acne Vulgaris Treatment Guide - Acne Treatment Alternatives

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young woman with facial acne
Young Woman with Facial Acne