Acne is a common disease which mostly affects skin with the densest population of sebaceous follicles; these areas include the face, the upper part of the chest, and the back.

It is linked to hormonal imbalance within androgens effects and is caused by three successive factors:

  • a production of excess sebum, which makes skin greasy
  • in certain circumstances, this sebum blocks the openings of sebaceous glands and causes a build up of oil underneath
  • this blocked sebum stimulates the bacteria P. acnes which causes surrounding tissue to become inflamed

Acne occurs most commonly during adolescence or periods of hormonal change, and tends to disappear over time.  However, adult acne breakouts are common.


Answers to common misconceptions

  • Acne is not a contagious disease.
  • Acne spots are not due to bad hygiene.
  • The sun is a short-term cure which will often bite back with more severe acne in the weeks following exposure.
  • Chocolate does not cause acne.
  • Young people are not the only ones with acne; adults and particularly women beteween 30 and 40 are often affected.


Hygiene advice for clear skin

  • Cleanse the face twice daily with a gentle face wash for acne prone skin.
  • Apply a cream or lotion to the affected areas (non comedogenic cream for the face).
  • Apply sun protection before sun exposure
  • Use oil-free makeup alongside non comedogenic products
  • Remove make up every evening


The different forms of acne

Acne in various forms is defined primarily by the size of the spots and whether it is “inflammatory” or “non-inflammatory”.

Non-inflammatory acne is the start of acne with the smallest type of lesion, called a microcomedo. This is just the beginning of acne formation. Depending on the growth of this microcomedo, it may develop into an open comedo (blackheads) or closed comedo (whiteheads).


Inflammatory acne is characterised by an inflammation of existing comedones caused by P.acnes.
Red spots appear: “pustules” if they are near the skin surface and “papules” (pimples) if inflammation is deeper.

Focus on Propionibacterium acnes

Propionibacterium acnes bacteria, also called P. acnes is part of the skin flora present on most people's skin. When a pore is blocked, this anaerobic bacterium proliferates and secretes chemicals that break down the wall of the pore, letting bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus into the skin and forming an inflammatory acne lesion.

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