What is acne?
Acne is the commonest skin problem that dermatologists see. Acne arises because of genetic factors, the presence of androgens (male hormones), and the inflammation caused by the bacteria Propionebacterium acnes on the skin. Teenagers and youths can get severe acne which result in permanent scarring if not treated. Many women also get hormonal acne until middle age. Acne can affect the face, chest, back, shoulders and scalp.

What is the treatment for acne?
Acne range in severity from comedones (blackheads, whiteheads) to papules, pustules (“zits”) to nodules and cysts (deep, painful lesions). Mild acne can be managed with over the counter pharmaceutical products. If the acne is not managed with over the counter products, one should seek a medical consultation. If the acne is severe with mulitple or deep painful lesions, it is best to seek treatment early to prevent permanent scarring.

The medications for acne inlude topicals (e.g. antibiotics, retinoids), light therapy (blue light) and oral medication (antibiotics, hormonal therapy, isotretinoin). The choice of medication depends on the severity of acne, the response to previous medication, the side effects and the patient’s preference. Usually medication is prescribed for a minimum period of several months for effective control.