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Acne is a condition that can affect anyone from any walk of life. It is most prevalent in those aged between 16 and 18 but can begin as early as 10 and can continue until people are into their 30s or 40s. When a few adolescent spots progress into something more serious or when the acne extends into adulthood, treatment from our specialists would be the next step.  The sooner you get treatment for your acne, the better are your chances to minimise permanent scar formation.

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What causes Acne?

The causes of acne are normally due to hormones and over growth of the skin cells at the surface of the skin. Typical skin changes include a greasy skin (seborrhoea), comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), and inflammatory spots (papules, pustules and cysts). Persistent severe inflammation can lead to scarring and small pits.

Acne can have significant impact on self-confidence and the quality of life; it can even lead to isolation and depression. The good news is, that you don’t have to suffer any more with your acne as there are great treatments available.

What treatments for acne are available?

Depending on several factors such as the severity of your acne, psychological impact and your general health, your dermatologist would recommend the best treatment for you and advice on optimal daily skin care. The treatments range from creams and lotions, oral Antibiotics and Isotretinoin, to laser(IPL) and chemical peels. Often a combination of treatments is required. Your GP may have tried things such as topical cleansers, topical antibiotics or the oral contraceptive pill (Yasmin, Dianette). The most effective treatment for acne, particularly for moderate to severe acne, is Isotretinoin.

Isotretinoin (Roaccutane)

Roaccutane is the best-known brand of Isotretinoin. Isotretinoin is the most effective treatment for acne but can only be prescribed by a Consultant Dermatologist. Isotretinoin is a retinoid and works by stopping excess growth of the skin surface cells, which helps unblock pores and stop inflammation. This has a cure rate of 85% with a 4-6-month course. The side effects are mainly due to a reduction in grease production which leads to dry lips, dry eyes and dry patches of skin on the body. Occasionally, muscle aches can be experienced and there can be a small risk of mood disturbance. Most patients and despite the side effects continue with the treatment due to the positive effect the treatment has on the acne. Women of child bearing age must use strict contraception and may need monitoring throughout treatment.

Isotretinoin is also one of the treatments used for the management of other skin conditions such as Rosacea.

Intense Pulse Light (IPL) therapy

Acne can be improved through Intense Pulsed Light. The IPL travels deep into the skin to switch off inflammation and improve redness. We recommend 3-4 sessions of treatment at 4 weekly intervals. IPL is available at Brighton, Hove and Worthing.

Acne scarring

Acne scarring can be difficult to treat but we have several procedures that are available to patients. All anti-scarring treatments will start with a consultation with the dermatologist. This will allow the consultant to see which procedure will be best for you and discuss other elements such as your expectations from the treatment. The different procedures include:

  1. Micro-needling – The treatment works by using micro needles to puncture the skin; this allows for the skin to start the healing process by producing collagen which makes the skin look plump and enhances the blood supply.
  2. Microdermabrasion – This removes the surface skin layers and helps promote re-modelling. It is usually combined with retinoids to maximise results. The procedure uses tiny crystals to physically remove the cells and clean pores.
  3. Chemical Peel – A treatment that removes the top layers of your skin using a chemical solution. The skin heals to form a new top layer, which is smoother and brighter than before.
  4. Laser skin (IPL) – IPL works by promoting collagen synthesis in the skin and treating redness.
  5. Laser skin (CO2) – This is our most modern treatment for acne scarring and is particularly good as it is able to penetrate deep into the skin and is highly accurate.