Acne is a chronic condition that may affect many people from their teenage years well into adult life. Acne signs can include blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules (pimples), cysts and nodules. Acne can appear on the face, back, chest, neck, shoulders, upper arms and buttocks.
Acne can also result in dark spots on the skin or permanent scars. The dark spots on the skin appear when the acne heals. It can take months or years for dark spots to disappear. Scars may form in people who get cysts and nodules as the acne clears. You can prevent these scars if you get treatment early. Acne symptoms can also cause low self-esteem and depression.
There are many topical acne treatments. Some topicals help kill the bacteria, while others work on reducing the oil. The topical medicine may contain a retinoid, prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide, antibiotic, or even salicylic acid.
Oral medication can help acne cysts and nodules. Antibiotics help to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. Birth control pills and other medicine that works on hormones can be helpful for women. Isotretinoin is the only treatment that works on all that causes acne.
Procedures that treat acne include lasers and other light therapies, chemical peels, extractions or steroid injections. Once acne scars have formed, there are a number of treatments including chemical peels, fillers, laser treatments and even surgery in some cases.