What is acne?

It is an inflammatory disorder of the skin. The skin has sebaceous (oil) glands that connect to the hair follicle. In someone with no acne concerns, the sebaceous glands make sebum that empties onto the skin surface through the pore, causing no issues. Keratinocytes, a type of skin cell, line the follicle. Normally as the body sheds dead skin cells, which we all do roughly every 28 days the keratinocytes rise to the surface of the skin and come off.

When someone has acne, the hair, sebum, and keratinocytes stick together inside the pore, causing the issue of spots. This prevents the keratinocytes from shedding and keeps the sebum from reaching the surface of the skin. The mixture of oil and cells allows bacteria that normally live on the skin to grow in the plugged follicles and cause inflammation—swelling, redness, heat, and pain.

There are 6 main types of acne:

  • Blackheads – small black or yellowish bumps that develop on the skin. It’s not dirt that you see, it’s black because the inner lining of the hair follicle produces colour

  • Whiteheads – have a similar appearance to blackheads, but may be firmer and will not empty when squeezed

  • Papules – small red bumps that may feel tender or sore

  • Pustules – similar to papules, but have a white tip in the centre, caused by a build-up of pus

  • Nodules – large hard lumps that build up beneath the surface of the skin and can be painful

  • Cysts – the most severe type of spot caused by acne; they’re large pus-filled lumps that look similar to boils and are the highest risk of causing scarring.

Acne Frequency

Acne can be from a few spots during your menstrual cycle to constant outbreaks, and feeling like you never have clear skin. It can be often mainly hormonal linked to your cycle or bacterial or a combination of both.

Whatever the level of your acne there is a massive impact on self-confidence and how comfortable you feel in your own skin. If you’re having a particularly bad outbreak, it can stop you from wanting to go out or start dating. This can lead to massive psychological effects, which, often people without the problem don’t fully understand.




GPs often don’t have the time to talk through quite how much of an effect it is having on your life, they also have very limited options apart from antibiotics or steroid creams which long-term use isn’t great for your body and often the body become resistant to them meaning they stop working.

There are different treatment modalities depending on the severity of the acne and also the impact it is having on you, and, this is very individual, as I’ve mentioned before, a few spots may really bother one person but not have any impact on someone else. It doesn’t matter, it’s what is bothering you, and only you. 



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