Acne Vulgaris

Who gets acne vulgaris?

Nearly all of us have acne at some time or another. It mainly affects adolescents (and can start as young as 8 years old), but acne may  persist , begin or become more severe in adulthood.

Find out more about the causes of acne...


What are the clinical features of acne vulgaris?

Acne most often affects the face, but it may spread to involve the neck, chest and back, and sometimes even more extensively over the body.


Individual  lesions  are centred on the  pilosebaceous  unit, ie the  hair   follicle  and its associated oil  gland . Several types of acne spots occur, often at the same time. They may be inflamed papules , pustules and nodules ; or non-inflamed comedones and  pseudocysts .


Superficial lesions


Deeper lesions


Secondary lesions


Individual acne lesions usually last less than 2 weeks but the deeper papules and nodules may persist for months. Many acne patients also have oily skin (seborrhoea).


More images of acne ...


Acne grading

Mild acne

Moderate acne

Severe acne

Classification of acne 


Some  dermatologists  assess the severity of a patient's acne more precisely by using a grading  scale . The inflammatory lesions are compared with a set of standard photographs to determine the grade, which may be 1 (very mild) to 12 (exceptionally severe) for example.


In clinical trials evaluating acne treatment, the numbers of uninflamed and inflamed lesions are carefully counted at regular intervals. It is remarkably difficult to count consistently.


What is the treatment for acne vulgaris?

Treatment for acne depends on the patient's age and  sex , the extent and the severity of the acne, how long it has been present, and response to previous treatments.


Reference: DermNet NZ