Diagnosing acne : Acne Treatment Guide

This may appear to be an obvious question: if you have an outbreak of spots, pimples or cysts on your face then this is likely to be acne.

In nine out of ten cases that is correct but there are numerous skin conditions which may look similar to acne so a medical diagnosis may be required.

However, if you are the parent of a teenager or are a young person who has spots on their face then this is certain to be acne. Acne is very common in the teenage years, which is mainly due to hormone surges. These surges can cause an excess of sebum from the sebaceous glands which along with dead skin cells, clogs up the pores and leads to acne.

A mild case of acne can be treated by yourself but if it is severe, occurs on other parts of your body or is affecting your life then visit your GP. He or she will examine your acne as well as asking you about your medical history and current lifestyle.

How severe is your acne?

The severity of your acne can be categorised into one of the following three groups:

  • Mild acne
  • Moderate acne
  • Severe acne

Mild acne is classed as an outbreak of non-inflamed spots such as whiteheads. This is usually confined to the face only.

Moderate acne occurs on the face but also spreads to the back and shoulders. It consists of a mixture of whiteheads (non-inflamed) and papules and pustules (inflamed).

Severe acne tends to be widespread in that it will appear on the face, neck, back, shoulders and arms/legs. It consists of inflamed papules, pustules, nodules and cysts which can cause acne scars.

There are three very severe forms of acne although these are thankfully, rare. They include:

  • Acne conglobata
  • Acne fulminans
  • Gram-negative folliculitis

Acne conglobata occurs in men and is the worst type of acne. It manifests itself as a series of large, pus-filled lesions which are often linked together. These lesions cause permanent damage to the skin and result in scarring.

It occurs on the face, back, chest, neck, thighs and upper arms and can persist for many years. Sufferers of this are usually aged 18 to 30.

It can be treated although it is sometimes resistant. Acne medications such as Roaccutane are prescribed via a dermatologist.

Acne fulminans is another version of acne conglobata. It also occurs in men and presents as a series of ulcerative sores. This can lead to severe scarring.

What distinguishes this from other types of acne are other symptoms such as fever and aching joints.

This is treated with Roaccutane.

Gram-negative folliculitis An extremely rare form of acne which may arise as a complication of long term antibiotic treatment for acne. Experts are unsure as to whether it occurs in men or women but it can be treated with Roaccutane.

Your GP will tell you which type of acne you have and suggest ways of treating it. He/she will refer you to a dermatologist if you have severe acne.

Your GP will also consider the emotional effects of acne.

© Medic8® | All Rights Reserved