Acne is a very common skin problem affecting 80% of the population worldwide in some form. There are many types of acne. The most common is called acne vulgaris. Another common form is called acne rosacea (or adult acne). Acne is the most commonly diagnosed skin disorder and the number one reason patients visit a dermatologist. Almost everyone goes through a period of acne at one time or another.
Pimples are an inflammatory form of acne that is characterised by excess oil (sebum) production, blocked pores, inflammation of surrounding skin and bacterial activity.
Just beneath the surface of the skin lie hundreds of tiny oil producing glands called sebaceous glands. Their function is to collect and excrete an oily substance called sebum to keep the skin healthy.
- Enlargement of the oil producing (sebaceous) glands in the skin and excessive oil (sebum) production resulting in greasy skin and large pores.
- Blockage of the tiny pathway (duct) that takes the sebum from the sebaceous gland to the skins surface.
- An overgrowth of acne bacteria inside the sebaceous glands. This bacterium is called Proprionibacterium acnes.
- Production of inflammatory products by the acne bacteria.
Physically acne can result in pain, skin damage and scarring. Psychologically acne can have a devastating effect on a persons self esteem and is often a source of anxiety, low self confidence and even depression. The aim of treatment is to suppress and clear acne and to prevent acne scarring. Treatment is aimed at overcoming the main factors contributing to acne namely excess oil production, blocked oil glands, overgrowth of bacteria and inflammatory products.
The use of lasers and light sources to treat acne is becoming increasingly popular due to the great results without the systemic side effects of medications such as oral antibiotics and Roaccutane. Lasers can be used by themselves to treat acne (Acne Light) or in combination with topical agents to improve effectiveness (Photodynamic Therapy).
The treatment of choice for scars resulting from past acne damage (i.e. acne scars) will depend on the type and severity of the acne scars. Treatment options range from surface treatments for superficial scars such as peels and microdermabrasion to treatments for deeper scars using advanced medical lasers such as the latest fractional laser technology.