What is acne?

23 March 2018

So many suffer with the frustrations of acne. Spire London East Hospital’s Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Adil Sheraz, who has previously appeared on W TV's, ‘Dr Christian will see you now’ with Dr Christian Jessen, provides answers to the top questions about acne.

What is acne?

Acne is one of the most common conditions in the world. There are three factors involved in the formation of an acne spot:
    1. An increase in production of cells in the hair follicle that will then eventually lead to a blockage in the opening of this follicle.
    2. Oil (sebum) that is secreted from within this follicle will have no escape route and will build up in the follicle.
    3. Propionibacterium acne – a bacteria that resides in the skin will ‘feed’ off this sebum and result in inflammation or a ‘spot’.

Treatments for acne target one or more of the above steps.

Are prescription gels and creams any good for my acne?

It all depends on the type of acne you have. Mild acne can often respond very well to just topical treatments that may contain antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide or retinoids. If you have mild comedonal acne then topical treatment may well be sufficient.

What is a comedone?

Comedones are the hallmark of acne. They are pores in the skin. A closed comedone is known as a white head and an open comedone is a blackhead.

My acne has not responded to topical treatment. What is the next step?

If you have moderate or severe acne then topical treatments on its own will not be sufficient. These will have to be combined with courses of antibiotics. Typical antibiotics include Tetracyclines, erythromycin or trimethoprim. Often courses will need to be up to four months.

I have severe acne and I’m fed up with multiple courses of antibiotics that only work temporarily. Is there anything more potent?

This is a very common concern that I come across. Prior to seeing me, patients have often tried months or even years of antibiotics that have not worked. The next step up would be Isotretinoin.
Isotretinoin is a Vitamin A derivative and is extremely effective in treating moderate to severe acne. It does however come with its own set of problems and side effects. Isotretinoin can only be prescribed by a Dermatologist. Watch for future posts where I will discuss Isotretinoin treatment in more detail. 


Dr Adil Sheraz Private Clinics at Spire London East Hospital are Mondays PM.

To see Dr Adil Sheraz please contact our private patient team on 020 8709 7817 or enquire here.

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