Today in Health & Wellness
Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
Doctors to Consult

Common name

Pimples, zits (Eng.); taghiyawat (Fil.), punggod (Ilonggo); bugas (Ceb.); camuro (Ilocano)

Acne or Acne vulgaris is an inflammatory disorder of the sebaceous gland of the skin resulting in pimples, boils and occasionally scarring.


Non-inflammatory acne:

  • Whitehead. They appear on the skin as small, whitish bumps.
  • Blackhead. Pushing through the skin's surface, the plug's appearance darkens due to the buildup of melanin.

Inflammatory acne:

  • Papule. A small, firm pink bump, which could be tender to the touch.
  • Pustule. Small round lesions, clearly inflamed and contain visible pus.
  • Nodule or Cyst. Large and usually very painful, nodules are inflamed, pus-filled lesions lodged deep within the skin.
Risk Factors
  • Adolescence
  • Hormone level changes during the menstrual cycle in women
  • Drugs (such as corticosteroids, lithium, and barbiturates)
  • Oil and grease from the scalp, mineral or cooking oil, and certain cosmetics
  • Friction or pressure from helmets, backpacks, or tight collars
  • Hair growth disorder
  • Environmental conditions (such as pollution or humid conditions)
Commonly Prescribed Drugs

Topical medications. These lotions, creams, and gels are applied to the surface of the skin.

  • Benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that cause acne. Doctors often use benzoyl peroxide along with topical antibiotics to reduce the likelihood of antibiotic resistance.
  • Retinoids chemically similar to vitamin A. Break up the mixture of oil and dead cells that blocks the follicle and causes the lesion. Side Effects: Increased sun sensitivity Drug Interaction: Avoid antacid, dairy products and iron preparation while taking tetracyclines.
  • Milk Acid Solutions from fruits including salicylic acid and glycolic acid, effective on acne. These solutions encourage the peeling of the top layer of the skin and the opening of blocked follicles which help re-establish the normal skin-cell replacement cycle.

Oral Medication

Can be useful when acne affects the skin on multiple areas of the body. They help control acne by reducing inflammation. Tetracycline and Erythromycin are the most frequently prescribed oral antibiotics.

Hormone Therapy

Involves the use of medication that restores the normal balance of hormones in both men and women (such as ethinylestradiol, cyproterone acetate).


  • Tetracycline should not be given to children < 8 yrs, pregnant and breastfeeding.
  • Erythromycin should not be given to patients taking anti-coagulant or theophyllines.
  • Tretinoin and isotretinoin should not be given to pregnant women. Birth defects in the developing fetus may occur.
  • Hormone therapy: should not be given to women who smoke, blood-clotting disorders, >35 years old and have a history of migraine headaches.
Treatment and Management
  • Do not pop, squeeze or pick at the acne lesion. This can spread the inflammatory process and worsen the acne.
  • Wash face gently at least twice a day with mild soap or a sulfur soap. Just pat face dry and do not rub it with a towel.
  • Use only "noncomedogenic" skin products that do not clog pores.
  • Avoid oil based products.
  • Avoid acne irritants such as airborne grease from fast food restaurants, rubbing or friction from sporting equipment, etc.
  • Some acne products increase the skin's photosensitivity. When in the sun wear a hat and use sunscreen and avoid tanning booths while using these products.
  • Stress management may be helpful if acne flares with stress.
  • Good nutrition is important to normal skin health. Eat food high in beta carotene such as carrots, pumpkin, cantaloupe and other yellow-orange fruits and vegetables.
Home Remedies
Doctors to Consult
Suggested Readings
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The Diet Dynamic
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