Acne Medical Information

Acne is a common skin condition that can be potentially distressing but a usually treatable skin condition. Acne occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. While acne is most common among teens, it can affect people of all ages. The impact of having acne can contribute to other conditions such as low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. Acne typically appears on the face, but can also appear on the chest, back and other parts of the body. In severe infection, pustules, and cysts may occur. Acne is different from rosacea, which appears similar, there are usually no blackheads with pure rosacea. With moderate to severe acne, it is recommended to use oral antibiotics in addition to other topical treatments.

Antibiotics treatments, either topical or tablets should not be used continuously for more than 3 months, because this leads to antibiotic resistance. If acne is well controlled after 3 to 6 months, reduce the frequency of topical applications, or stop using treatment altogether. Acne may not come back, but if it does, treatment can be started again


Signs and Symptoms

  • Whiteheads 
  • Blackheads
  • Small, red, tender bumps (papules)
  • Pimples (papules with pus at the tip)
  • Large, solid lumps which may be painful below the skin (nodules)
  • Painful, pus-filled lumps below the skin (cystic lesion)

 Treatment Options

Comedonal (non-inflammatory acne) 

Topical retinoid (e.g. adapalene, tazarotene, and trifarotene) or

Azelaic acid

Salicylic acid

Mild acne and mixed (comedonal and papulopustular) acne- 

Topical antimicrobial (e.g. Benzoyl peroxide alone or with Topical antibiotic (e.g. clindamycin)


Topical retinoid


Benzoyl peroxide alone and Topical antibiotic (for patients who cannot tolerate the retinoid)

 Moderate acne- all 3 recommended 

Topical retinoid

Oral antibiotic

Topical benzoyl peroxide

 Recommended Treatment routine: 

Morning routine - wash face with gentle soap, face cleanser, or benzoyl peroxide, apply a thin layer of prescribed topical treatment to entire face

Night routine- wash face with gentle soap or face cleanser, or benzoyl peroxide if applicable, apply retinoids to face 

Gels have drying effect and maybe preferred for oily skin

Creams and lotions are moisturizing for dry skin

Solutions are also for dry skin but cover large surface are easily

Foams are easy to apply to hairy areas