Acne, or acne vulgaris, is an inflammatory skin condition. It is very common, with over 85 per cent of 16-18 year olds affected, although it may occur in children and adults. Acne is caused by a lot of different things, including:

  • hormones (androgens), which affect the amount of oil the body produces. The amount of this hormone varies at different times, like in puberty or at different times of the menstrual cycle
  • cell turn over
  • bacteria
  • inflammation
  • genetics

Acne can vary in severity from a few pimples to many and can cover the face, neck, chest, and back. Pimples are classified as either inflammatory lesions, or non-inflammatory lesions, called comedones. When comedones are open they are called blackheads, and when they are closed are called whiteheads. Inflammatory lesions can be small or large, and are known as cysts or nodules when very big. They can be hard and painful. In severe cases, acne may lead to permanent scarring.

There are many treatments available for acne, both topical (creams you put on the skin) and systemic (medication you swallow).