Use our easy-to-understand guide to get the essential acne facts. The latest news and scientific developments are covered, as well as the causes and effects of acne. We cover acne treatment too.Acne – What Is It?The common form of acne has the scientific name Acne Vulgaris. Acne is a widespread dermatological condition that has affected humans for thousands of years. What are the main symptoms of acne? Scaly red skin, blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. Characteristic permanent scarring if often the result of these lesions. A lesion is a damaged area of skin or other tissue. Skin has millions of tiny sebaceous follicles which are popularly known simply as pores. These are connected to sebaceous glands. The glands manufacture essential oils (sebum) to keep the skin healthy. Acne affects skin regions with lots of sebaceous follicles. Typically therefore, the patient’s face and upper body are affected.It is the changes in follicles and glands that lead to the symptoms of acne. The follicles become blocked with sebum and dead skin cells. Bacterial infection is caused by a specific bacteria type that is always present on the skin but usually harmless. This leads to inflammation, most obvious as redness and itching. It is the damage that is caused by the inflammation that leads to acne scarring.Am I Likely to Get Acne?If you are an adolescent or a young adult then you are more likely to suffer from acne, which usually results from changes in the body’s hormones. A family history also pre-disposes people to outbreaks, and they tend to be more severe if there’s a history of serious acne. One of the more interesting acne facts is that although male sex hormones are the underlying trigger for acne, these are also naturally present during puberty in females. So acne affects girls and young women. Acne outbreaks usually fade after months or a few years. This is not entirely reliable and some patients may find they have acne outbreaks that last for many years.Are Just Adolescents Affected?Acne tends to occur as a result of hormonal changes in the body. The changes affect the follicular glands. Because significant hormonal changes occur during puberty, the disease is most prevalent during the adolescent years. Acne also tends to be seen in girls and women as a result of the hormonal changes which correlate with menstruation, pregnancy and menopause.What Treatments Can Help?It all sounds negative, but some acne facts are actually positive. Most importantly, there are various effective treatments for acne. The first medications to try are based on benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and similar chemicals. Benzoyl peroxide in particular is considered to be very helpful and its side effects are usually not troublesome.In severe cases, antibiotics may be utilised to counteract the bacterial infection. There is increasing scientific evidence that Propionibacterium, the bacterium involved in acne, is becoming resistant to antibiotic treatment. As a consequence, physicians may be reluctant to prescribe antibiotics.Hormone treatment can help some women. The hormones present in some contraceptive birth-control products counteract the male sex hormones responsible for acne. Some physicians prescribe these medications as acne treatments.Retinoids and anti-inflammatory medications are also useful.Scientific research continues in an attempt to develop a vaccine for the treatment or prevention of acne in humans. Ongoing research is focussing on analysis of the genetic structure of acne bacteria. This may help identify alternatives to conventional antibiotics. The research continues to increase our scientific knowledge of acne facts.What Are The Long-Term Effects?Scarring from acne is the main physical long-term effect and the scars may persist throughout life. How does it happen? Inflammation within the skin results in collagen over-production during the healing process. Thickened and depressed acne scars form as a result.It’s worth mentioning that there are long-term psychological effects as well as physical ones. Acne tends to affect young people at a critical stage in their personal development. It can leave them feeling inferior and undesirable. Social interaction and development may be damaged. One of the crucial acne facts is that acne symptoms can have long-term effects on the sufferer’s self-esteem, social success and psychological well being.