Acne Vulgaris is a chronic, hormonally influenced, inflammatory disorder of the sebaceous (oil producing) gland and hair follicle. It is a very common skin condition that research shows affects as much as 85% of the population at some point in their lives.

Although the causes of the condition are numerous and interacting, in essence it is the result of

  • inflammation of the follicle
  • an elevated sebum (oil) production
  • dead skin cell build-up within the follicle
  • over activity of the C.Acnes bacteria (a bacteria normally found on the skin surface

Sebum production is controlled by androgens (male hormones), and so it is often considered to be a condition relating to adolescence, due to the increase in the androgen hormone testosterone around the time of puberty. However, research suggests that cases of adult onset acne are increasing.

Acne varies greatly in severity, mild cases generally just exhibit blackheads and whiteheads (open and closed comedones) and the odd inflamed lesion (papules) which appear as raised pink/red bumps.

As the level of inflammation increases, the number of papules rises, with some clearly containing pus (pustules). They can become quite large in size with those over a centimetre being referred to as cysts, and where they form deep in the base of the follicle rather than towards the surface, they are described as nodules. These lesions tend to be hard to the touch and painful.

Large inflamed blemishes can remain on the skin for weeks, or even months in the case of deep nodular lesions. They can also lead to the destruction of the follicle causing scarring and potentially long-term facial disfigurement, which in turn can lead to psychological effects and social anxiety.