Acne vulgaris is a common skin condition seen by physicians. It primarily affects adolescents, but can continue into adulthood. A key factor in the pathogenesis of acne is sebum production. Typical therapy includes combinations of topical retinoids and antimicrobials for mild acne, with the addition of oral antibiotics for moderate to severe disease. In the most recalcitrant cases or for nodulocystic acne, oral retinoids are indicated. In women who fail to respond to conventional treatment, hormonal therapy is often used adjunctively. Only isotretinoin and hormonal therapy improve acne via their action on the sebaceous glands. This article focuses on the mechanisms by which these treatment modalities act on the sebaceous glands and their clinical use in the practice of medicine.
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