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Common Skin Problems - Acne

Acne is a common, ongoing skin disorder affecting the skin, hair follicle and the glands in the skin that produce an oily substance called sebum. 

Acne typically first may be noticed around the onset of puberty due to hormonal and other changes associated with it. It affects men and women of all races and ethnicities but is more common in adolescents and young adults though it may occasionally be seen in children and older adults also. 

Mild-moderate Acne

Science does not exactly understand the cause of acne, but it is believed that many factors may contribute, including a family tendency, use of steroid hormones, particular strains/ species of bacteria that live on the skin (we ALL have bacteria that live on the skin and help maintain its health) as well as dietary and other factors that are not as well known. 

Certain medical conditions may also make acne worse, such as women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, certain medications and perhaps, a diet high in dairy and highly processed foods. 

When doctors examine a person suffering from acne, we will often examine the skin on the face, but it may also involve other parts of the body, usually the shoulders, neck, chest and back, depending on the individual. 

Based on what we see, and certain features, we will then classify the acne in terms of severity. 

For mild and moderate acne, there are many options that are over-the-counter(OTC) in combination with prescribed medication by your family doctor that will take commitment and care on your part, as well as patience. Skin, on average takes about 3-6 months to really begin to show signs of positive change, and patience is one of the hardest things to come by when one is affected by what one sees in the mirror, but it does take time and commitment. 

Severe Acne

For those with severe acne, a medication prescribed by dermatologists works really well, but is not without significant and serious side effects, which are not to be taken lightly. 

As a GP myself with a background in surgical training as well as in skin, I love working with skin conditions in my dual role as a GP as well as a Cosmetic Physician, as the combination of prescribed medication with medical grade cosmetic treatments can work wonders for skin issues, especially in those with skin that does not respond quickly or easily, or with skin of colour, which often responds differently to Caucasian skins.

If you are undecided as to your acne type and severity, it is best to seek a consultation with a doctor you know and trust who has an interest in skin - healthy and unhealthy skin! 

Next week I will continue on the topic of acne. I will cover a range of treatments for acne, as well as other possible treatments once the acne is under control.


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