Acne is the term for plugged pores (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples, and even deeper lumps (cysts or nodules) that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and occasionally the upper arms.
Acne affects mostly teenagers. However, a significant number of adults continue to have breakouts or develop new onset acne. While not a life threatening condition, acne can be upsetting, disfiguring and can severely affect self-esteem. When severe, acne can lead to serious and permanent scarring.
Even less severe cases can lead to scarring. Luckily, today virtually all cases of acne can be resolved.
Treatment is designed to prevent formation of new lesions and aid the healing of old lesions.
Treatment may consist of topical creams or gels containing retinoic acid, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, topical antibiotics or oral antibiotics. It is important to remember that there is no quick fix for acne and not every patient will respond the same. It typically takes 6-8 weeks to see initial results and a combination approach is often necessary. Severe or refractory cases may need treatment with isotretinoin or Accutane® which are extremely effective, but have potentially serious side effects. Surgical intervention may include professional chemical skin peeling, laser or light treatments such as Blu-u, removal and/or drainage of cysts, and/or intralesional cortisone injections.
See the video series on eHow to learn more about acne prone skin and related treatments.