Acne is an inflammatory reaction in the oil glands of the skin. Hormones, especially androgens (male hormones), cause an increase in the production of oil in these glands (which is why the condition is more prevalent around puberty). These glands can become blocked and the bacteria naturally living on the skin gets trapped inside. They produce lipases (enzymes that dissolve fat), which provokes an inflammatory reaction in the gland and surrounding skin.
More recently, evidence is accumulating that the gut microbiome has a role in the development of many skin conditions, including acne.
There are a number of ways of treating acne. Your GP can diagnose acne correctly and then can offer different treatment strategies. These include topical skin antibacterials such as benzyl peroxide and retinoid products, through to oral antibiotics. Sometimes, for females, a version of the contraceptive pill that is anti-androgenic can be prescribed. For stubborn or extensive cases of acne, a referral to a dermatologist may be required to consider more powerful medication.
Some people may prefer a more “natural” approach to treating acne. Vitamin B5, zinc, lactoferrin and sacchromyces have evidence of benefit in acne. A suitably qualified integrative doctor or naturopath may be able to guide a choice of evidence-based supplements, diet and lifestyle approaches that may assist as well.
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Any advice given is general in nature and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice and must not be relied upon as such. For any healthcare advice, always consult a healthcare practitioner.