typical acne on young patient’s face
Teenage acne is a more distressing condition than we realize.
Acne occurs at stages in life when we are are most concerned about how we look – first in the difficult adolescent years, and increasingly now in the mid-thirties. It is estimated that 85 percent of teens get acne, usually starting at age 11 for girls and a couple years later for boys.
It is not all bad news however – there is a much better understanding of the disease process in acne, the different ways it can appear, and how to treat it effectively without damaging the physical or mental health of patients.
Aggressive high dose treatment with isotretinoin tablets (Roaccutane) was very popular in the last decade. With more patients undergoing treatment, it became evident that high dose Roaccutane treatment caused extreme drying and premature aging of skin. More alarmingly, patients suffered relapses of depression and suicidal behaviour.
The understanding now is to identify acne as the problem it is, and treat it consistently without resorting to aggressive treatments too soon. “Micro-dose” Roaccutane for short periods if required is now the norm, as it is associated with fewer side effects. There are effective topical treatments that can be prescribed for mild to moderate acne, enabling us to reserve aggressive treatment for cystic acne and other severe cases.