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NHS Choices Condition

Content supplied by NHS Choices

Acne is a chronic skin condition that affects most people at some point during their life. It causes spots to develop on the skin, usually on the face, back and chest. The symptoms of acne can be mild, moderate or severe.

Acne is thought to be caused by changes in hormones that are triggered during puberty.

Acne can cause great distress and have an adverse effect on a person's quality of life and self-esteem.

Therefore, healthcare professionals recognise that the condition requires effective and sometimes aggressive treatment.

How common is acne?

Acne is the most common type of skin condition. It is most widespread among older children, teenagers and young adults. 

Around 80% of 11 to 30-year-olds are affected by acne. Most acne cases in girls occur between the ages of 14 to 17, and in boys the condition is most common in 16 to 19- year-olds.

Most people will experience repeated episodes, or flare-ups, of acne for several years before finding that their symptoms gradually start to improve as they get older. The symptoms of acne usually disappear when a person is in their twenties.

However, in some cases, acne can continue into adult life, with approximately 5% of women and 1% of men over 25 continuing to experience symptoms.


With treatment, the outlook for acne is generally good. Treatments can take between two to three months to work but, once they do, the results are usually effective.

Approximately 90% of people who seek treatment for acne will show at least a 50% improvement in their symptoms after three months. Once the symptoms are under control, additional treatments can be used to prevent the acne from recurring. This is known as maintenance therapy.

In cases of severe acne, scarring can occur. However, this can usually be prevented by seeking prompt treatment.

view information about Acne on www.nhs.co.uk »

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