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Minerva Pediatr. 2011 Aug;63(4):293-304.

Acne vulgaris in children and adolescents.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology Biederstein, Technical University, M√ľnchen, Germany.


Acne vulgaris is a very common inflammatory skin disease originating from the pilosebaceous unit. Peak incidence is at puberty, but acne can affect all age groups. Prepubertal acne is rare, but important to recognize as diagnostic and therapeutic procedures differ from pubertal acne. Acne neonatorum is a mild, self-limiting disease, whereas acne infantum commonly presents with moderate to severe lesions and high risk of scarring thus requiring early intervention. Mid-childhood or prepubertal acne raises the suspicion of hyperandrogenemia, further investigations are indicated to rule out underlying disease. The same applies to any patient with very severe acne, acne not responding to therapy or unusual clinical presentation. Etiopathogenesis of acne is not yet fully understood. Familiy history is the most important risk factor to develop severe acne and scarring. The relevance of life style factors such as smoking or diet is controversial. Lately high carbohydrate diet and dairy products have been implicated as aggravating factors. Mild acne normally responds to topical monotherapy, in moderate disease combination of two synergistically acting substances (e.g. benzoyl peroxid plus antibiotic, benzoyl peroxid plus retinoid, retinoid plus antibiotic, benzoyl peroxid plus azelaic acid) will improve clinical response. Retinoids and/or benzoylperoxid have been shown to be effective in maintenance therapy. In patients with severe disease or high risk of scarring systemic therapy with antibiotics, oral contraceptives with antiandrogenic properties and in particularly isotretinoin as most effective acne treatment should be considered early to avoid physical and emotional scars.

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