The full medical term is 'acne vulgaris' and this is one of the commonest conditions which Dermatologists are asked to see. The condition is so common that some Dermatologists believe that almost everyone suffers from acne at some stage during their early adult life. Usually only those dividuals with a significant form of the condition require treatment from their Family Doctor or Dermatologist.
The condition is characterised by blockage and inflammation of the hair follicles and associated sebaceous (natural oil producing) glands of the face, chest and upper back. Appearances vary from mild greasiness of the skin together with some blackhead (or 'comedone') formation to severely inflame cysts in rare cases.
Sometimes blackheads do not appear but blockage of the sebaceous glands leads to the formation of 'whiteheads' (or 'closed comedones') instead. These are very small white or skin-coloured spots. Inflammation of either form of comedone will lead to the appearance of severely inflamed acne spots. The aim of the treatment is to reduce the overall numbers of comedones and to reduce the likelihood of the different types of comedones from turning into inflamed spots or cysts. Treatment is a combination of 'topical' agents (things which are applied to the outside surface of the skin) and (systemic' agents (things which are taken by mouth to act on the skin from within). It is very important that you understand that no form of treatment will be fully effective in less than twelve weeks. You must persist with regular treatment for the whole period before seeing any response. Tablets are often much more effective if they do not mix with food in the stomach. Your stomach will be empty two hours after your last meal or drink containing milk. You should not take anything other than water for 40 min after your tablets. You may need to find four times during the day (depending on what dose of treatment you are on) during which these rules can be followed; two helpful times are before breakfast and before going to bed. The topical applications are not intended to treat inflamed red spots, they are designed to prevent the progress of comedones into spots. Therefore, think of them as treatments which work by preventing spots from developing. In other words do not stop using the preparations too soon after improvement, the treatment is probably still working at this stage. Continue for the full period, as directed by your Doctor. You need to apply these topical agents to the whole of the potentially affected area which has been giving you problems (e.g. the whole of the cheeks, chin and chest), whether there are spots present or not!! Obviously there is no point in applying anything to an area which has never been involved with your acne. These topical treatments will nearly always lead to some redness and dryness of the skin when you first start the application. This will gradually settle down. To help your skin get used to this irritation you should start off by leaving the application on for only twenty minutes initially, and then washing it off thoroughly with soap and water. After one week of this you can increase to 30 - 60 minutes, depending on how well you can tolerate the treatment, and then double the length of time each week until you can leave it on for eight hours overnight. Beware because the treatment has a mild bleaching effect on clothing and can turn dark clothing (including bed clothes) lighter. It is perfectly all right for you to apply moisturising creams to counteract the drying effect of the treatments, I would recommend my Jojoba Facial Cream for the face and my Shea Body Lotion for other parts of your body, you are entirely free to apply makeup as you wish, this will not worsen your acne. The treatment for acne is designed to keep the skin condition under control until the body's own tendency to get rid of acne has occurred (usually between 20 and 30 years of age). Most treatments for acne can be continued for prolonged periods safely until this natural improvement begins. For resistant acne Roaccutane is a tremendously effective treatment. If you have struggled with acne spots or perhaps have been dismissed by an unsympathetic doctor, consider using 'consult the specialist' for my expert help available now on my website.