Also known as: acne vulgaris 


Acne is a skin condition that causes spots to develop on the face, back or chest. 

What is acne? 

Acne involves having blocked pores. They become infected by harmless bacteria that live on the skin such as propionibacterium acnes

This causes whiteheads, blackheads, spots, papules, pustules or cysts to form. 

In some cases, acne can cause large painful infected nodules to form under the skin, which can leave scars when they eventually heal.

What causes acne?

The most common cause of acne is hormonal changes, which can cause excessive sebum (oil) production. 

Sebum is a natural oil that stops your skin from drying out, and is produced by tiny glands attached to your hair follicles called sebaceous glands. 

When sebum mixes with dead skin cells, it can block your pores as well as lead to bacterial infections. This process results in acne.

Who does acne affect?

Acne is a common skin condition that can affect everyone at various stages in their life. It often occurs earlier in girls than boys, and affects 80% of teenagers. 

This is due to the hormonal changes in the body as a teenager, when the level of testosterone increases to bring about physical and sexual maturity. 

In most cases, the symptoms of acne have eased by the age of 20.

But, adult acne can also occur later in life. Women are especially vulnerable due to hormonal changes around pregnancy, menstrual periods and during the menopause. 

It can also be a result of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). 

Around 5% of women may experience acne symptoms beyond their teens.

How is acne treated?

Here at The London Clinic, we are proud to have a number of effective treatment options for adult acne. Your dermatologist or aesthetic practitioner will recommend the most suitable pathway for you. 

The most popular treatments we offer are:

  • Skincare products
  • Medication
  • Microneedling
  • Facials

Dermatologists at The London Clinic help diagnose and treat acne, as well as prevent any acne scarring as much as possible. It is possible to treat acne with skin treatments that aim to eliminate the cause of spots forming. 

Treatments can reduce the amount of natural oils, known as sebum, released by the skin. It involves removing the dead skin that blocks the pores and killing the bacteria.

Treatments for mild to moderate acne include:

  • Benzoyl peroxide, which stops dead skin cells blocking pores and kills bacteria
  • Retinoids, that reduce the production of sebum
  • Antibiotics, to kill the bacteria that infect blocked pores
  • Azelaic acid, which removes dead skin and kills bacteria
  • Contraceptive pill, to balance your hormones (for females)

These acne treatments are generally available as a cream, gel, lotion or tablets. They may be used in combination to achieve the most effective results.

You may need to use an acne treatment daily and for a few weeks before it starts to work. This is to give your skin time to heal and get used to the treatment, as well as reduce the chances of side effects.

Treatment for severe acne

Cases of severe acne usually need multiple or more effective acne treatments. This may include antibiotics, such as tetracyclines, the contraceptive pill or isotretinoin (a type of vitamin A).

The combined contraceptive pill can improve the symptoms of severe acne. 

It is important to be aware that antibiotics found in many acne treatments may reduce the effectiveness of your contraception.

Isotretinoin is an effective acne treatment. But, it must be taken with great care by sexually active women as it’s known to cause birth defects.


Available treatments for this condition
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