Buildup of oil from sebaceous glands interacting with bacteria


Pustules on the skin, usually the face, ranging from very small to large.

Mortality Rate



Benzoyl peroxide, antiseptics, others

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Acne vulgaris, usually just referred to as acne is a skin disease characterized by appearance of pustules, usually on the face.  Although it causes no other pathologies, it can have severe effects on a person's appearance and can cause scarring in severe cases.  Although the pustules are often very small but numerous, they can grow to a size of over a centimetre and may require surgical lancing to drain.  It is primarily a disease that affects persons passing through puberty and usually self resolves by the age of 25.  However, cases that continue into a person's 30's or 40's are not unknown.

The disease involves a complex interaction of hormones (primarily testosterone so it often effects males more than females), the glands that produce oil in hair follicles, and a bacteria propionibacterium acnes. In simple terms, the glands that produce the oil become clogged with oil and dead skin cells.  These clogged glands become home to the bacteria, which causes inflammation and the production of pus. 

The condition requires management commensurate with the severity of the symptoms.  The first line treatment is benzoyl peroxide which assists in clearing the skin of the bacteria.  It's most common side effect is dermatitis.  Severe cases may require the direct application of antiseptics or the use of antibiotics, although the bacteria will usually become increasingly resistant to antibiotics.  Drugs that reduce oil production can also be useful, but must be used over a period of several months to have an effect.  Anti-inflammatory drugs are also useful.  Abrasion of the skin can also effectively reduce the symptoms, and modern studies have shown that phototherapy and lasers can have a positive effect.  

Acne vulgaris at Wikipedia

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