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Acne: The age-old nuisance  (Acne)
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Acne: The age-old nuisance

Dr. Mariusz J.A. Sapijaszko, MD FRCPC (Dermatology)

Frequently asked question:
I am in my late twenties and I am getting acne. I did not have acne when I was a teenager but now it is happening. What is acne? Please help.

Acne is a frustrating condition to have as it has “its own mind.” It is a very common condition and yet it is challenging to deal with. Acne (medically known as acne vulgaris and commonly known as blackheads, whiteheads, pimples or zits) is a very common skin condition mostly seen in teenagers (for some people it can persist into adulthood). Although mostly seen on the face, it can also occur on the neck, scalp, chest and back.

There are many causes of acne including the following:
1. Increased oil (sebum) production
2. Presence of bacteria in the oil glands
3. Plugging of the hair/oil gland units
4. Inflammation

Acne Types:
There are many types of acne. Just beneath the surface of the skin lie many tiny glands called sebaceous (oil) glands. Their function is to collect and excrete the oily substance called sebum, to keep the skin healthy. Acne is an inflammatory condition of the hair follicle/oil gland (pilosebaceous unit) and it happens when oils (sebum) are produced by active or overactive sebaceous glands. However, the tiny pathway for the sebum to escape often becomes clogged, and a bacterium grows inside. In a short time, the area swells up, and forms a pimple on the skin. This mostly happens during puberty under the influence of changing hormone levels.

In the presence of bacteria, especially propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) the oils are converted to more inflammatory substances that lead to the development of blackheads (open comedones), whiteheads (closed comedones), red-inflamed bumps, pustules or cysts. When not treated properly, these changes can lead to permanent acne scarring and have a significant psychological effect on the sufferer.

Effective treatment of acne requires a thorough examination and history. Acne is a medical condition and it deserves to be treated in a professional manner deserving of expert care and attention. Appropriate therapy to ensure prompt improvement will help lead to long-term remission, minimize scarring, and improve self-esteem.

Acne is treatable. Scarring is preventable. Treatment options need to be tailored to each patient. You and your face deserve the best care available. Seek advice from dermatologists – the skin experts.


acne,   acne scars,