What is acne?Acne vulgaris
is the most frequently encountered skin disorder in the teenage and young adult population. Acne vulgaris is a disorder of the skin and is commonly associated with excessive oil (sebum) production due to hormonal changes
Areas typically affected by acne are the face, neck and shoulders. The back
and buttocks are also areas prone to outbreaks.
How can I treat acne?Treatments
for mild to moderate acne typically come as topical applications in the form of creams
. These treatments often contain antibacterial active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide
, salicylic acid and triclosan are used to reduce bacteria on the skin and prevent re-infection.
What is the difference between spots and acne?
The terms 'spots' and 'acne' are often used interchangeably, which can sometimes cause confusion.
There is no clear definition of acne, but the term is commonly associated with a particularly severe case of inflamed spots. In fact, blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, pustules and pinheads are all characteristics of acne vulgaris. In comparison with the associations attached to the word 'acne', the term 'spots' tends to be used for less severe, but no less troubling outbreaks of pimples and whiteheads.
We have decided to created a separate acne vulgaris
page to focus on the more high-strength spot treatments available. All spot and acne treatments can, however, be found on this page.
What is the difference between spots and pimples?
Spots and pimples are the same thing.
What different types of spot are there?
The most common types of spots/acne are:
- Whiteheads (closed comedones) are the simplest type of spot, and are caused when the skin pores become blocked with grease. The white stuff is primarily a mixture of oil and dead cells.
- Blackheads (open comedones) are similar to whiteheads, except the blockage has been partially exposed to air. The black appearance is due to the oxidization of the spots contents.
- Red spots (papules) are caused by inflammation, such as when a blackhead or whitehead becomes infected. When a papule begins to fill with pus, it becomes a pustule. This indicates a high degree of infection.
How are spots prevented?
In most cases, a thorough cskin cleansing regime is the best line of defense against spots and acne. You can help prevent spots by keeping pores clear of dirt, grease, dead skin cells and bacteria by cleaning the skin regularly with an antibacterial wash or lotion.
How are spots treated?
The two most common pharmacy-licensed active ingredients for treating spots are:
- Benzoyl Peroxide, which is the active ingredient in acnecide and Quinoderm spot and acne treatments. It works in 3 ways by: killing spot-causing bacteria; breaking down the oil and dead skin in the pores; and peeling the skin so that fresh skin can grow.
- Nicotinamide, which is the active ingredient in Freederm. It acts as an anti-inflammatory so it is particularly effective against red and inflamed spots and acne.
There are also treatments based on tea tree oil
) and witch hazel (Witch
). These also have antibacterial actions, but are gentler on the skin.