What is acne?
Acne is a common skin condition
that occurs when oil and dead skin cells clog the skin's pores. Acne plagues
teens-more than 85% experience at least a mild form of this condition. Severe
cases can be both emotionally and physically scarring. Most people outgrow acne
by their early 20s, but some people, especially women, have acne into their 40s
What are the symptoms of acne?
Clogged pores lead
whiteheads, or blackheads. These blemishes can appear
on the face, neck, shoulders, back, or chest. Pimples that are large and deep
cystic lesions. Cystic lesions can cause painful
infections and can lead to scarring.
See an illustration of
how pimples form .
How is acne treated?
How acne is treated depends
upon its severity. Gentle cleansing with soap or using nonprescription
products, such as benzoyl peroxide lotions, often clears up mild acne
If these treatments do not work, your doctor may prescribe
topical lotions containing
antibiotics or other kinds of medication. If topical
medications do not control acne outbreaks, your doctor may prescribe oral
antibiotics along with topical retinoid-a lotion that contains a form of
vitamin A-and a topical antibiotic.
For the most severe cases,
doctors may prescribe an oral retinoid, such as isotretinoin (Accutane, Sotret,
or others). This medication is usually used as a last resort, because it may
cause severe birth defects and other rare but serious side effects.
If you need more information, see the topic