Acne: Causes, Symptoms & Clinical Treatments Available


Acne is a common skin condition, with the large majority of the human population suffering from it at least once during their lifetime. While the presence of acne is rarely life-threatening, its effect on a patient’s appearance can cause considerable distress. The good news is, a wide variety effective, clinical acne treatments are now available. This article will outline the most common causes of acne, its symptoms and the various clinical treatment methods available.

Common Causes of Acne

Here are some common causes of acne and why they trigger this condition.

  1. Hormonal Changes: Humans often experience hormonal changes at certain stages, most notably puberty. The production and increase of androgens in young boys and girls often reflect on their physical appearance as pimples. It is a perfect example of how hormonal changes trigger acne. It can also be noticed during other periods like pregnancy in women.
  2. Medication: As unlikely as it may sound, some medications can trigger acne on your skin, and examples are drugs that contain testosterone or lithium.
  3. Diet: This may not come as a surprise, as it is general knowledge that what you eat can affect your body in many ways. Studies have shown severally that some meals, especially carbohydrate concentrated foods, can trigger or worsen acne.
  4. Dead Skin Cells: Dead skin cells are also a common cause of acne because they often clog pores on your skin, leading to ingrown hair, which can trigger skin reactions.

Acne can be caused by several other conditions, while some factors like stress can significantly worsen an already existing acne infection.

Acne Symptoms

While the onset of acne is often sudden and unavoidable, it is important to note that you can help prevent the condition from becoming worsening on your skin by employing some cautionary measures. To do this, you must first be able to detect acne at its earliest stages.

Here are some common symptoms of early acne to look out for:

  • Whiteheads or closed plugged pores
  • Blackheads or open plugged pores
  • Small red bumps or papules
  • Pimples (often characterized by pus at the tip)
  • Painful, pus-filled lumps

Acne Prevention

These are some of the most typical symptoms of acne, and here are some actions to take to prevent them from getting worse.

  • Wash your face at least twice daily to remove dead skin cells and excess oil.
  • Do not scrub your face too hard as it can cause irritation
  • Avoid popping pimples with your fingers
  • Talk to your doctor and use only prescribed treatments.

Can Acne Be Treated?

Acne is experienced by over 80% of the human population, making it an extremely common condition. However, the condition can worsen if it is not treated correctly. Fortunately, all cases of acne are now treatable. It should be noted that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ treatment, and best results are only achieved when a skin doctor has had a chance to examine a patient’s condition and recommend the ideal treatment solution.

Clinical Acne Treatments

Chemical Peels

Rather than exfoliating the skin by removing dead skin cells as dermabrasion treatments do, chemical peels instead exfoliate by employing chemical substances such as alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta-hydroxy acid (BHA). Composed of salicylic acid, beta-hydroxy peels in particular, are ideal for patients who possess oily skin that is prone to acne.

BHA peels help to penetrate skin pores and eradicate concealed oils and dead skin cells, which helps to greatly reduce irritation. This results in a significantly-improved skin complexion. In addition to treating acne, chemical peels are also an effective method for reducing the appearance of acne scarring.

Injections for cystic acne

Injections of diluted corticosteroid directly into an acne cyst, will help reduce irritation, swelling and discomfort. Please refer to our acne treatment page for a demonstration of the cystic acne injection treatment.

Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy treats a range conditions including acne.  It works by combining three elements; a photosensitiser, light and oxygen. A photosensitising agent is applied to the affected skin’s surface, which is activated by a medical light source. The subsequent light then helps to eliminate acne cells and acne-causing bacteria.

Clinical Treatments for Acne Scarring

There are numerous clinical treatments available to patients today, to help reduce the appearance of acne scars. These include:

  • Chemical Peels
  • Skin Needling
  • ResurFX
  • DOT Therapy
  • Subcision
  • Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)


Acne is a common skin condition that affects many people, often at multiple times in their life. The good news is, even the most severe cases of acne can now be successfully treated using clinical treatment methods.

If you’re suffering from mild or severe acne, get in touch with our skin doctors today and find out how we can successfully treat your condition.