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Common skin condition affecting hair follicles and sebaceous glands; lesions (spots) occur mainly on forehead, nose, chin, upper chest and back. Characterised by blackheads or comedones (dilated pores with black plug of keratin); whiteheads (small, cream-coloured, domed papules); red papules; pustules; sometimes cysts. Inflammation occurs when Cutibacterium acnes  colonise blocked pores. Severity is classified as follows:

  • Mild: mostly blackheads and whiteheads, usually on face only.
  • Moderate: above plus papules and pustules that may extend to shoulders and back.
  • Severe: above plus nodules and cysts; spread may be extensive.

Acne is induced by androgens, which may explain its prevalence in the teenage years. Can occur up to the 5th decade of life. May severely affect quality of life.

Acne is also a characteristic sign in polycystic ovary syndrome. 

Practice Nurse featured article 

Practice in Pictures - Acne Dr Mike Wyndham

NICE NG198. Acne vulgaris: management; June 2021
NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries. Acne vulgaris; last updated 2020 
DermNet NZ. Acne and other follicular disorders
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