Teenage acne is more prevalent in developed societies, and recent research has linked it, along with other conditions where hormones play a role, such as Type II diabetes, to a high glycaemic diet throughout childhood. Regardless of this, the vast majority of acne patients do not show hormonal abnormalities. One exception is older female patients, in their 20s and 30s, who may show raised levels of male sex hormones on testing.
Mild acne, particularly that seen in early adolescence, can often be treated by creams and lotions alone. These include antibiotic preparations, and retinoid creams, derivatives of vitamin A. More severe disease, with inflamed papules and pustules often require long term oral antibiotics in addition to creams. The most severe form, cystic acne, which can often lead to scarring, is generally treated with a retinoid tablet called isotretinoin. This drug is very effective in clearing cystic acne, but has a number of potential side effects. For females it is crucial to avoid falling pregnant while on this medication, as foetal deformities can occur. There has also been a question raised as to whether isotretinoin can cause depression, and even suicide. Studies carried out on thousands of teenagers and young adults since that question was raised, have not shown an increased rate of severe depression, but to be sure, at ID+LC we monitor the patients mental state, and contact the referring GP, or consult a psychiatrist, if there is any doubt.