Acne Vulgaris

Acne Vulgaris is usually seen in teens and young adults. It is also known as normal acne. It is caused by hormonal imbalance resulting in inflammation, redness, and pore blockages appearing as blackheads or whiteheads.

  • Acne is the common cause of spots
  • Safe and effective treatment available

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Acne Vulgaris

12 treatment(s) for Acne Vulgaris

  • It is an antibiotic
  • Complete the course
  • Mild side effects

Rozex Gel 0.75%
  • Very effective for mild to moderate acne rosacea
  • For external use only
  • Mild side effects

Rozex Cream (0.75%)
  • Very effective for mild to moderate acne rosacea
  • For external use only
  • Mild side effects

Finacea Gel 15%
  • Very effective for mild to moderate acne rosacea
  • For external use only
  • Mild side effects

Metrogel 0.75%
  • Very effective for mild to moderate acne rosacea
  • For external use only
  • Mild side effects

Duac Once Daily Gel 3%
  • Very effective for acne
  • Can stop acne from spreading
  • Mild side effects
Duac Once Daily Gel 5%
  • Mild side effects
  • Very effective for acne
  • Stops acne from spreading

  • Mild side effects
  • Apply to all of the infected skin
  • Very effective for acne spots

  • Very effective for mild to moderate acne rosacea
  • Mild side effects
  • It is an antibiotic

  • Very effective for mild to moderate acne rosacea
  • Mild side effects
  • It is an antibiotic

  • Very effective for STI
  • Mild side effects
  • The course should be completed

Skinoren Cream
  • Very effective for mild to moderate acne rosacea
  • For external use only
  • Mild side effects

DescriptionCausesTypes of treatmentQuestions and answers

Acne is very common and usually treatable. However, the treatment can last for several months to clear the spots caused due to acne. Most people between the age of 12-25 get affected with acne. It is more common in boys than girls and usually affects the face. Sometimes it can also affect the neck and chest. The severity of acne can range from mild to severe. When acne is not treated, it can last for about 4-5 years before settling down. About 8-10 teenagers develop mild acne. The severity can increase if not treated. Acne is not contagious.

Some sebaceous glands lie under the surface of the skin. These glands make the oil that keeps the skin smooth. Pores on the skin allow the oil to come on to the surface of the skin. Hair growth is also seen through these pores. As children get into their teens, the quantity of oil produced by the skin increases. This is due to the hormonal changes in the body which stimulate the sebaceous glands. Hence, when the skin becomes more oily, acne is likely to appear.

To learn more about acne vulgaris, see the comprehensive patient information leaflet

Acne is not just a simple skin infection. The cause of acne can be explained as a complex interaction of hormonal changes, oil, inflammation, and overgrowth of normally harmless bacteria.

Acne is not caused by poor hygiene. In fact, excessive washing may make it worse. Moreover, stress is also not a reason for acne. It cannot be cured by drinking lots of water.

Causes of Mild-to-Moderate Acne

There are pores on the skin. When the skin at the top of the pores becomes thicker and mix with the dead skin cells that are shed into the pores, the latter is blocked. This blockage is normally seen over the skin as blackheads or whiteheads. The black of the blackheads is due to the skin pigment. It is not dirt as some people think. In many cases, acne does not progress beyond this mild stage.

Some oil may collect under the blocked pores. These appear as pimples. This is the mild-to-moderate stage of acne which comprises of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples.  

Causes of Moderate-to-Severe Acne

In severe cases, the spots are larger than they appear in mild acne. When the oil produced by the skin is trapped, it is an ideal situation for the germs to live and multiply. Some numbers of this germs live on the skin but do no harm. However, if they multiply and develop, the immune system may react and cause inflammation. This causes redness in the skin area and spots become larger, filled with pus. This, however, heals eventually; but can leave marks.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

There are some rare cases which can cause acne, especially in girls and women. Polycystic ovary syndrome and other similar conditions develop excess male hormone in the adrenal glands. They can cause acne, excess growth of facial hair, and other problems. Another rare case of acne could be an exposure to chemicals that occur in some workplaces. For example, halogenated hydrocarbons.

Acne Becoming Worse

  • Picking the spots can make acne worse
  • Progestogen-only contraceptive pills may increase acne problems
  • Greasy make-up may cause acne and also make it worse
  • Humid weather conditions could also be a reason to increase acne problems
  • The hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle may increase the spots caused due to acne
  • Tight clothes may also be the cause of spots. For example, tight bra straps, headbands, etc.
  • Some medicines can also make acne worse
  • Anabolic steroids can make acne conditions worse
  • Very hot or cold water may worsen acne problems

Acne treatments work well If used correctly. They clear the spots as much as possible and also prevent scarring. There are different types of treatments that work in different ways. Depending on the severity of the condition these treatments are decided by the doctor.

If you have mild acne, that is, blackheads, whiteheads, or mild pimples, you would prefer no treatment for the same. Mild acne usually disappears after some time without leaving any scars. However, if this becomes severe and inflamed, it can cause scars which would require treatment. It is best to treat acne at the early stages. This helps prevent the scars.

For mild acne conditions, use topical treatments and for moderate to severe conditions, where you have blackheads and whiteheads as well, tablets would be recommended along with topical treatments.

  • Home Care

·  Do not wash the face more than normal which is twice a day

·  Use a mild soap and lukewarm water to wash your face

·  Do not scrub hard when washing acne-affected areas

·  Use antiseptic washes which may be beneficial

·  The black tip of a blackhead is actually skin pigment which cannot be removed by cleaning or scrubbing. Hence, do not try to clean off blackheads

·  Some acne treatments may dry the skin. Hence, use a mild water-based moisturizing cream

·  Do not use ointment or oil-rich creams

Topical Treatment

Apply topical treatments to all the affected areas of the skin and not just the spot.

  • Benzoyl Peroxide

It is a common topical treatment. It is used to perform three actions: 1. It kills the germs, 2. It reduces inflammation, and 3. It helps to unblock pores. Benzoyl peroxide often works very effectively to clear inflamed spots and helps clear blackheads and whiteheads. It is available in the pharmacies without a prescription.


o  Wash your skin 20-30 minutes before use of benzoyl peroxide

o  Apply twice a day

o  Keep it away from hair and clothes, as it has a bleaching effect

o  It may cause mild skin irritation

o  If irritation is caused, avoid using it till irritation subsides

  • Retinoids

These are used to unblock pores and have some effect on inflammation. Various brand names are tretinoin, adapalene, and isotretinoin. Use retinoids at an early stage of acne. This helps unblock pores and treats blackheads and whiteheads. You need a prescription to purchase retinoids.


o  This may cause mild skin redness and skin peeling

o  The spots may worsen before improving

o  Sensitivity to sunlight may be experienced while using retinoids

o  Apply retinoids at night and wash off in the morning

o  You may experience a burning sensation

o  Skin dryness is also a common side effect of retinoids

o  Avoid pregnancy if you are using retinoids

Topical Antibiotics

Antibiotics reduce the number of bacteria and inflammation. Hence, they are good at curing inflamed acne. However, they have little effect on the pores. Therefore, blackheads and whiteheads cannot be treated with antibiotics. They may cause mild irritation but have fewer side effects as compared to other topical treatments. Usually, these are prescribed in combination with other medicines for better effect. Using them alone can increase the risk of the germs getting used to the antibiotics reducing the effect of the treatment. Also, you need a prescription for topical antibiotics.


Some treatments combine with other preparations to increase their effectiveness. For example, antibiotic when combined with benzoyl peroxide or retinoid can be more effective.


Antibiotic tablets work by killing the germs that cause acne. They also reduce inflammation and spots. However, they have little effect on blocked pores. Antibiotic tablets, in combination with topical treatments, are used for moderate to severe acne conditions. Common antibiotic tablets contain tetracycline. These include tetracycline, doxycycline, oxytetracycline, and lymecycline. Children under 12 are recommended not to take tetracycline-based antibiotics. Women should avoid pregnancy if on any of these medicines. Take the tablets empty stomach for better results.

Some antibiotics include erythromycin and trimethoprim.

The combined contraceptive pill can also help reduce acne problems in women. This reduces the imbalance caused by hormonal changes in the body.  

Isotretinoin tablets are also very effective as they reduce the oil produced by the skin. They clear the spots. However, they may cause severe side effects. Hence, consult a doctor before taking these medicines.

If you are looking for some expert help, book an ONLINE consultation with our GMC Registered Clinicians at

Patient discretion and confidentiality top the priority list at!

Will acne return after treatment?

Once the spots have cleared, acne commonly comes up again if you stop the treatment. Hence, continue the treatment for about 4-5 years to prevent acne from returning.

Does acne need hospital treatment?

If severe acne is not cured with treatments, you may need to visit a specialist. Else, there is no need of hospital treatment in acne conditions.

Is acne treatable?

YES. Acne conditions are treatable.

Who can get acne?

People ages between 12-25 can get acne. However, this condition can, at times, also affect older and younger people.

Are boys or girls more prone to acne?

Boys are more commonly affected than girls.

Is acne contagious?

NO. Acne is not contagious.

Is stress a cause of acne?

NO. Stress does not cause acne.

What causes acne?

Acne is not just a skin infection. The cause of acne is a complex interaction of hormonal changes, oil, overgrowth of normally harmless germs, inflammation, etc.#

If you are looking for some expert help, book an ONLINE consultation with our GMC Registered Clinicians at

Patient discretion and confidentiality top the priority list at!