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It is estimated that around 80% of adolescents and young adults (aged 11-30) experience acne to some degree. Acne typically begins around the age of 12-14, and often even earlier in girls. Both genders are affected equally. Acne usually resolves by the 30s, but in some cases, it can persist longer.

What is acne?

Acne itself is a fairly simple concept. Humans have small sebaceous glands that lubricate the hair follicles with a natural oil called sebum. Too much of this, combined with dead skin cells, can clog a follicle. The clogged follicle can bulge out into a white dot, or develop into a blackhead. Normal skin bacteria can then spread, and you get a papule, a pustule or a nodule – basically an inflamed small infection. This is acne.

Types of acne

In general, acne is divided into four groups based on how severely it is affected: mild, moderate, moderate to severe and severe. Furthermore, acne can be categorized as comedonal acne, papulopustular acne, cystic acne or deep acne, depending on the form in which it occurs. Acne can, in addition to the physical effect, also have a strong psychological effect on people, and can therefore be associated with anxiety and depression.

FAQs about acne

Why do you get acne?

The cause of acne is complex. It is often a combination of hormonal changes, the skin changing i.e. becoming more oily, genetics and external factors like diet, smoking, drugs etc.

Can acne be contagious?

No, acne is not contagious. The bacterium that aggravates acne is normally found on everyone's skin however when the conditions are right it creates a gateway to infection and acne appears.

What can I do to prevent/reduce acne breakouts?

  1. Wash your face with soap and soap/cleansers that are gentle on the skin and have a pH of around 6.5.
  2. Use products with little oil/grease in them. Choose 'non-comedogenic' products where possible.
  3. Avoid touching your face and do not scratch and pick at acne.

If you have received local treatment from your doctor, it is important to apply this all over your face, and not just where there is an outbreak.

Is it dangerous to be on antibiotics for so long?

No. It is not dangerous, but Dermatologists have a responsibility to balance your needs (treatment) with antibiotic stewardship (to prevent development of resistance to antibiotics). As such, we don't typically suggest treatment lengths above and beyond three months.

I'm pregnant, can I still get treatment for acne?

Yes, but your options are limited. It is important to consult a doctor as even topical treatments may be harmful to your unborn child. Inform your doctor that you are pregnant before starting treatment so they can find the right treatment that is safe for both you and the child.


How Dr.Dropin can help you

The general practitioners at Dr. Dropin can help you with the initial assessment of acne, and initiate any local treatment and/or antibiotics.

If you have moderate to severe acne or acne with scarring and have previously tried topical treatments and antibiotics without achieving results, a dermatologist can help you. You can seek assistance from a dermatologist by visiting a Dr.Dropin dermatology clinic.

General Practitioner

At Dr.Dropin our experienced GPs provide a wide range of primary care services, similar to those provided by the NHS, either in the clinic or through video consultations.


At Dr.Dropin, you will receive specialist care from our expert Consultant Dermatologists provided by skindoc. With extensive experience from both public and private hospitals, we can assess and treat most chronic and acute skin disorders – either in the clinic, through video, or via a photo upload service.