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Acne is a common skin disorder, and is thought to affect up to 85% of persons between ages 12 and 25. It may continue to cause problems for people beyond their 20's but usually is less severe. Treating acne, whether in its mild or more severe forms, requires understanding and commitment to the skin care and therapy recommended by your Physician and/or Nurse.

What is Acne?

Acne is an ongoing disorder that involves the skin's oil-producing glands (sebaceous glands) and the hair follicles. Breakouts of acne will occur where these glands are concentrated, such as the face, neck, upper arms and chest.

Normally, the sebaceous glands produce a natural oil that flows from the oil ducts through the hair follicle openings to lubricate and soften the skin. Bacteria is also present, but rarely causes a problem. At the onset of puberty, hormones stimulate and enlarge the sebaceous glands, thereby increasing their activity. Changes in the linings of the hair follicles (also referred to as pores) cause an increase in the number of dead skin cells being shed by the body. A buildup of debris may occur in the hair follicle, causing an obstruction of the oil flow and bacteria. This buildup or congestion results in the formation of COMEDONES - "whiteheads" and/or "blackheads". Trapped bacteria and other aggravating factors may lead to inflamed lesions - red papules and pustules. In more severe cases, long lasting cysts and nodules may occur.

Aggravating Factors

No one factor explains acne, but some conditions may increase the severity of Acne.


The routine acne treatments do not cure acne, but only control acne while it subsides on its own. Often a period of 6 weeks of treatment is necessary before benefits are seen. Acne treatments are divided into topical treatments (applied to the skin) and oral treatments (pills by mouth). These treatments are effective because of their antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, or keratolytic ("unplug pores") actions.

Final Note

As mentioned above, it is important to use oil-free "noncomedogenic" skin products. Unless directed otherwise by your nurse/physician, use mild soaps to your face, antibacterial or acne soaps to your chest/back.

Mild Soaps (Examples)

  • Neutrogena
  • Purpose
  • Basis
  • Cetaphil
  • Dove
  • Oil of Olay

Moisturizers (Examples)

* Use SPF formulas when possible in morning

  • Neutrogena facial lotion
  • Purpose
  • Eucerin Facial lotion
  • Moisturel
  • Oil of Olay

Cosmetics (Examples)

  • Most of the major companies have products which are noncomedogenic, e.g., Almay, Avon, Mary Kay, Estee Lauder, Clinique, Revlon, etc.