Acne is the most common of skin diseases, affecting 85 per cent of Australians aged 15-24 years old. Very few people manage to escape their teenage and young adult years without some pimples and blackheads.
Acne happens when the oil glands (pores) in the skin become blocked. Hormones make the oil glands produce more oil (sebum) and if the pores are blocked, a build-up occurs and you’ve got acne.
The face, neck, chest, shoulders and upper back are the areas mainly affected by acne because they have the highest number of oil glands.
Acne usually starts at puberty when increased levels of hormones cause an increase in the size and oil production of glands. If you have a family history of acne, it may also increase your chances of developing acne.
Acne usually clears spontaneously for many people by their mid 20s. However, for approximately five per cent of young people, acne can become severe.
Mild acne is mainly limited to whiteheads and blackheads and the pimples don’t cover large areas of the face or body.
Moderate acne is made up of papules (raised reddish bumps) or pustules (the same raised reddish bumps but with white centres) that are widespread across the face or body.
Severe acne can cause large, deep, solid and painful lumps or cysts under the skin. The breakouts cover large areas of the face or body and often stay for months or years.
All types of acne can be treated, with a vast range of safe and effective options to choose from. While there are products that can improve the visible effects of a few pimples in a short time (8-24hrs), to get the maximum benefits, treatment of acne takes time and patience.
In mild acne, that may mean a week or two but for the more severe forms of acne, it may require a few months. If acne is affecting your enjoyment of life, it is important to see your GP.