Skin Conditions


Acne, which is a common skin condition, usually occurs during puberty. Acne affects most people to varying degrees at some point in their lifetime, with between 70 and 90 percent of teenagers being affected by acne.
This skin condition, with its characteristic spots and reddish skin patches, most commonly affects your face, back and upper chest.
Six main types of spots are caused by acne

  • Whiteheads: With a similar appearance to blackheads, whiteheads can often be firmer with a white centre
  • Blackheads: These are small yellowish or black bumps which develop on your skin
  • Cysts: These are the most serious spot type caused by acne. Cysts are large lumps that are pus-filled and look quite similar to boils. These spots carry the highest risk in terms of leading to permanent scarring
  • Papules: These small red bumps might feel sore or tender
  • Pustules: Although similar to papules, pustules have a white tip in their centre due to a build-up of pus
  • Nodules: These large and hard lumps build up under the surface of your skin and are often painful

Most forms of acne treatment take anything up to three months to work properly.

What can cause and trigger acne?

Acne is thought to be a hereditary condition. If both a mother and father had acne, it is then likely that their children will have acne when they reach puberty.
This type of genetic predisposition has been confirmed with twin studies and through tests on close relatives.

Acne and your sebaceous glands

Both the longevity and the severity of acne is linked to your sebaceous glands. These tiny glands are just beneath the surface of your skin and are attached to your hair follicles. These glands produce a waxy, oily substance (sebum) that lubricates and hydrates your skin, also supplying the top layers of your skin with minerals, vitamin E and antioxidants.
Your sebaceous glands usually become active during puberty, as they are stimulated by the hormones that are released from your adrenal glands. Thus, acne usually manifests around the time of puberty.
Acne develops because of blockages in your follicles as the plugs of sebum and keratin form due to the overproduction of these substances in your sebaceous glands. Then the bacterium, Propionibacterium acnes, causes the inflammation, lesions and redness associated with acne. This can sometimes lead to both scarring and hyperpigmentation.


Sebum overproduction occurs naturally, but it can be intensified due to the increasing presence of androgens (sex hormones) or through the use of anabolic steroids.
Because acne can be linked to hormones, it can also occur in women entering the menopause or during pregnancy.
In terms of diet, no high-quality evidence currently supports a clear link between diet and acne. However, it is thought that foods high in unsaturated fats might exacerbate skin conditions similar to acne. Some evidence also suggests an association between acne and a high glycaemic-load diet.

Who is most susceptible to acne?

  • Globally, acne is a very common condition affecting 650 million people
  • Acne is slightly more prevalent in females than in males
  • Acne affects 70 to 90% of all teenagers
  • Acne often improves during your 20s but can persist into adulthood (although this is rare)
  • For those over 40, 1% of men and 5% of women are affected by the condition
  • Acne does not appear to affect some ethnicities more than others

Are there any risks from acne?

Although acne in itself is not dangerous, it can leave sufferers with purple, long-lasting scars.
Severe acne can also cause sufferers to experience social and anxiety problems, which is often worsened because acne most commonly appears during adolescence and this is already a time when many have body image insecurities.

The prevention and treatment of acne

Numerous methods appear to help to clear up acne, but they are not totally guaranteed to work and can often take a few months for the effects to be noticed.

Are there any easy home remedies for acne?

  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Avoid squeezing or rubbing your spots, because this can irritate and worsen any blemishes
  • Moisturise your skin and cleanse it daily, being careful to remove any dirt or oils
  • Avoid putting too much make-up on because cosmetics can contribute to clogging and blocking your pores
  • After you have exercised, wash yourself properly afterwards because sweat can irritate your acne
  • Greasy hair can also exacerbate your acne, so wash your hair regularly with shampoo and keep your hair out of your face when sleeping
  • Use only mild cleansers, soaps and shampoos and wash in water that is neither too hot nor too cold as this can worsen your acne

Of course, there are many over-the-counter products available in your IPSA Pharmacy for acne. However, some acne products do require a prescription from your IPSA physician such as:

  • Antibacterials
  • Hormones: For women, certain oral contraceptives can improve your acne
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Salicylic acid sulphur
  • Oral and topical retinoids