Acne is a very common condition that will affect most of us at some time in our lives. It is often mild and does not require any treatment, however it can be disfiguring with significant psychological and social consequences. The good news is that in almost all cases even severe acne can be effectively treated.
The causes of acne are complex and multifactorial, however fundamentally acne results from blockage of the hair follicle - a blind-ended tunnel within which the hair grows. At the top of the follicle, close to the skin surface, a gland known as a sebaceous gland secretes sebum into each hair follicle. The lining of the hair follicle is made from modified skin cells that are shed through the opening of the follicle at the skin surface. The earliest abnormality in acne is an accumulation of dead skin cells within the opening of the hair follicle. Subsequent blockage of the follicle results in whiteheads, blackhead, and acne spots.