Skin and Beauty

Acne Vulgaris and it's Management

Written by Dr. Kalpana Pathak and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.


Acne Vulgaris is a common skin concern in adolescents and may sometimes persist in adulthood too. It is a skin disorder involving pilo-sebaceous follicles or oil glands and is therefore seen to involve areas where oil glands are dense. Hence face, chest, back, upper arms are common sites of involvement.

Though acne is commonly seen in oily skin, it can be involve dry skin too due to blockade of oil glands when excessive creams or greasy thick creams are used to moisturize the skin.

Acne can present as whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, nodules and abscesses. If not treated properly it will leave extensive scarring and pigmentation in the skin.

Common Causes Of Acne:

  • Excessive use of cosmetics, oily creams, facials, medicines like steroids, menses, humid weather, hormonal disorder like polycystic ovarian disease can precipitate acne.
  • Diet has a role in acne too. It has been documented that dairy products and foods with high glycemic index like refined carbohydrates may cause acne.

Management of Acne:

To understand the management of acne, it is essential to understand it's pathogenesis. Acne is basically seen in excessively oily skin(seborrhoea) due to blockade of oil glands by shedding of ductal cells. This blockade leads to growth of a bacteria known as propionibacterium acnes.

Also androgen(hormone) has a role to play in acne. The medicines used in acne are basically meant to target these underlying causes.

  • Antibiotics like clindamycin, nadifloxacin, benzoyl peroxide are used to control the bacteria P acnes.
  • Seborrhoea is controlled by using glycolic or salicylic acid based face washes or tretinoin/ adapalene gels.
  • Retinoids -- a group of drugs(isotretinoin) are said to work on all stages of acne. In cases of hormonal derangement -- medicines like cyproterone acetate, oral contraceptives etc are added to control acne flare ups.

Treatment In Acne:

Treatment is suggested according to type of acne.

  • If lesions are mainly comedonal - salicylic or glycolic acid based face wash along with night application of adapalene gel helps. Sometimes for faster response salicylic acid peels are added too. Also patient should be advised to get blackheads/whiteheads extracted daily.
  • If lesions are red bumps or pustules - benzoyl peroxide based face wash along with application of clindamycin and/or benzoyl peroxide cream and tretinoin or adapalene gel in night helps. If required antibiotics like azithromycin, doxycycline, minocycline or lymecycline can be added.
  • If lesions are severe like nodules and cysts - oral isotretinoin is the drug of choice and gives magnificent results.

Skin Care In Acne Prone Skin:

  • Use a salicylic acid/ glycolic acid based face wash.
  • Get your comedones extracted regularly.
  • Use a water based moisturizer, even oily skin needs hydration.
  • scrub your face two times in week.
  • Use a mud mask weekly.
  • Take salicylic acid or glycolic acid peels every fifteen days or month to improve skin texture, control acne and reduce scars and marks.
  • Take a well balanced nutritious diet and exercise daily.
  • Avoid face massages or application of greasy cosmetics and oils.

Acne prone skin needs proper skin care. If right medicines and products are used, it is easy to manage acne.

It is advisable that one should consult a dermatologist for a proper personalized prescription and skin care regime rather than using home remedies as acne can have long term sequelae in form of scars and marks if not treated adequately.

Last reviewed at: 07.Sep.2018



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