Patient Care


What is Acne?

Acne is a condition which develops in and around the hair follicles and their oil producing glands called the sebaceous glands. Although we have these glands all over the surface of our body, acne only develops on the face, chest, and back.

What are the signs & symptoms of Acne?

The oil produced by sebaceous glands is called sebum, which begins to appear soon after puberty. When the oil glands become blocked, comedones – or blackheads and whiteheads – are formed, bacteria in the deeper part of the hair follicle and beneath the sebum blockage release chemicals which act upon the sebum and break it down to release other chemicals. These chemicals make the skin around the hair follicle red and inflamed, resulting in a pimple. In bad cases, pus may develop within the pimple. Large, painful swellings called nodules and cysts may develop and result in scarring after the condition has eventually settled. These scars can either be depressed and sunken, or bulging and hard.

See your doctor if:

  • You are so uncomfortable with the condition that it affects your quality of life
  • It is widespread
  • Self-care methods have not been effective
  • There are large nodules and cysts
  • There is significant scarring
What are the treatment options for Acne?
Treatment applied to the skin

Patients with mild acne usually respond well to topical treatments. These include sulphur and resorcinol preparations (e.g. acne clear cream and lotion), preparations containing benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics (erythromycin and clindamycin gel and lotions), and vitamin A -derived creams or gels (adapalene and tretinoin).

Oral treatment

If your acne becomes worse and you have a lot of inflamed spots, topical treatment alone may not be adequate. Your dermatologist will probably prescribe antibiotic tablets, such as doxycycline, erythromycin, minocycline, and cotrimoxazole.

For severe acne

In very serious cases that do not respond to the above treatment, or in cases of severe nodulocystic acne, a tablet called isotretinoin may be given. This medication may give rise to side effects such as dry skin, cracked lips and body ache. If taken during pregnancy, it may cause serious damage to the unborn baby. It is hence important for women of child-bearing age to practice strict contraception while on therapy.

Find A Doctor

Click here to access our Find A Doctor directory for a list of doctors treating this condition across our NUHS institutions.

You can search by -
  • Condition name 'Acne' AND
  • Institution
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National University Health System
  • National University Hospital
  • Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
  • Alexandra Hospital
  • Jurong Community Hospital
  • National University Polyclinics
  • Jurong Medical Centre
  • National University Cancer Institute, Singapore
  • National University Heart Centre, Singapore
  • National University Centre for Oral Health, Singapore
  • NUHS Diagnostics
  • NUHS Pharmacy
  • Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
  • Faculty of Dentistry
  • Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health
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