Acne at Spire Harpenden Hospital

Although acne can't be cured, it can be controlled with treatment.

Prescription creams or drugs can help to reduce acne, and dermabrasion can help to remove acne scars.

Why you might need it

Acne is a common skin condition that affects most people at some point. It causes spots to develop on the skin, usually on the face, back and chest. The severity can range from mild to severe. Most people have acne on and off for several years before their symptoms start to improve as they get older. Acne usually disappears when a person is in their twenties. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy and menstrual periods can also cause or contribute to acne.

The spots can range from blackheads and whiteheads which can range from mild, to inflamed pus-filled pustules and cysts. It is caused when glands in the skin begin to produce excessive amounts of oil (sebum) which blocks small holes in the skin through which hairs grow, causing blackheads and whiteheads. As a rule, the more sebum that you make, the greasier your skin feels, and the worse acne is likely to be.

Some people make more sebum than others. In mild to moderate acne, pores become blocked due to the skin at the top of the pores becoming thicker, combined with dead skin cells that are shed into the pores. Sebum then collects under blocked pores.

In moderate-to-severe acne, trapped sebum is ideal for some types of bacterium to grow. If a large number develop in the trapped sebum, the immune system may react and cause inflammation. If inflammation develops, it causes the surrounding skin to become red, and the spots become larger and filled with pus.

Aside from scarring, the main effects of acne are psychological, such as reduced self-esteem and in very extreme cases, depression.

How much does Acne cost at Spire Harpenden Hospital

We can't display a fee for this procedure just now. Please contact us for a quote.

Who will do it?

Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care. 

All of our cosmetic nurses or consultants are of the highest calibre and benefit from working in our modern, well-equipped hospitals.

Our cosmetic nurses or consultants have high standards to meet, often holding specialist NHS posts and delivering expertise in complex sub-specialty surgeries. Many of our cosmetic consultants have international reputations for their research in their specialised field.

Before your treatment

You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.

We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.

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Preparing for your treatment

We've tried to make your experience with us as easy and relaxed as possible.

For more information on visiting hours, our food, what to pack if you're staying with us, parking and all those other important practicalities, please visit our patient information pages.

Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.

The procedure

Although acne can’t be cured, it can be controlled with treatment. Several creams are available at pharmacies to treat acne. If your acne is severe and appears on your chest and back, it may need to be treated with antibiotics or stronger creams. Your pharmacist or doctor will advise you based on the severity and type of your acne. Treatments can be topical (treatment that you apply to the skin), and/or tablets. Common topical treatments work by killing bacteria, reducing inflammation, and helping to unplug blocked pores. For more severe cases, topical antibiotic preparations may be required.

The combined contraceptive pill (the pill) may help some women if their acne seems to be partly related to their hormonal changes.

If topical treatments or antibiotics prove ineffective, your doctor may recommend a systemic drug which reduces the amount of sebum made by your sebaceous glands. These are normally used only after other treatments have been tried first. This is because there is a risk of serious side-effects.

It is normal to take up to four weeks for there to be any improvement that you can see. There is often a good response to treatment by six weeks. It can take up to four months (sometimes longer) for maximum response to a treatment. Once spots have cleared, acne commonly flares up again if treatment is stopped. For this reason, maintenance treatment is usually recommended.

Removal of scars

Scars caused by acne can sometimes be removed by abrasion (dermabrasion) or laser treatment. These treatments are carried out by a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon. 


Even after you’ve left hospital, we’re still looking after you every step of the way. After treatment for acne, a follow up appointment may be required and ongoing monitoring / treatment may be recommended. Your GP can also be informed of the best course of action to continue your treatment plan.​

If you have any questions or concerns, we're here to help.

Why choose Spire?

We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.

Important to note

The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.

How to get to us

We have excellent road links to the M1 and A1(M), and are five minutes from Harpenden train station.

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Spire Harpenden Hospital,

Ambrose Lane

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Important information about COVID-19 tests

COVID-19 testing or antibody tests are not available as a standalone service at Spire Harpenden Hospital.


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