Acne (or Acne Vulgaris) is a very common skin problem affecting nearly everyone from puberty onwards.

The process that causes acne is complex. In simple terms, it is likely that the oil glands in the skin are too sensitive to the normal levels of male and female hormones in the body. This leads to many events. Too much oil and skin cells are produced forming a plug in the hair follicle, commonly called a blackhead, whitehead or comedo. Also, these follicles become irritated and inflamed, leading to red spots and pus. Bacteria are also involved making irritating enzymes and chemicals. Sometimes the inflammation becomes so severe that large lumps and cysts can form, leading eventually to scarring.

Despite popular belief, acne is not just a disease of teenagers and cannot be cured with just a few dabs of cream or a ‘magic cleanser’. Acne can last for years into early adulthood, and changes in nature over time. Thus acne treatment needs to be used long-term, and different treatments used to treat different stages of the disease. As there are different types of acne spots, and often at the same time, different acne treatments are used together to get the best result.

Acne skin has oily hair follicles, so it is best to avoid over-moisturising or over-hydrating the skin.

  • Limit showers to just a few minutes each time
  • Cleans the face with a slightly soapy cleanser.
  • A light moisturising serum or lotion is best, if the treatment is too drying
  • Spray-on sunscreens are better than cream or lotion sunscreens

When using treatment creams prescribed by your doctor:

  • Use a small amount to cover the whole face, a pea-sized dab is often enough
  • Start every-other day, this limits irritation. Once used to the creams, they may be applied daily.
  • Moisturise lightly if there is too much irritation. Stopping the cream for a day or two is allowed to let the irritation settle.
  • A small amount of redness and peeling is normal. Take breaks, but do not stop treatment completely.

Acne treatments can take up to 6 weeks to start working, and 3-4 months for full effect. Sometimes it seems more spots are coming up early on, please keep using the treatment, as things are likely to improve with time. Once the acne starts to clear, the creams need to continue for the long term, as they will prevent more acne from coming up. Your doctor or dermatologist would be best to advise you on the treatment required.

Persistent adult acne / Adult onset acne

This condition tends to be more common in females. Acne appears for the first time in adult years (age 20+) or never clears from teenage acne. In males the acne usually starts in teen years and persists through adulthood.

It is very frustrating especially for those women who enjoyed clear skin all through their teens.

This can relate to abnormal blood levels of hormones produced by your own body or external hormones such as within the pill. DepoproveraR or the MirenaR devices.

DIET plays a role. Increased ingestion of simple carbohydrates and sugars (such as in processed foods, white bread, alcohol, potato crisps, take aways, sweet drinks, excessive dairy),  late night snacking and poor sleep pattern can raise blood insulin levels which negatively impacts on skin.

Treatment may require lifestyle changes and hormonal manipulations as well as all the standard acne treatments mentioned in ACNE.

As a result of a media enquiry received at College, the following story featuring Dr Anita Patel was published in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age:

Make a booking or enquiry

Our friendly specialist staff are ready to assist and are ready to answer your call at Bondi Junction. To find out more or to make a time to see any of our dermatologists, please make an enquiry.