• 73 High Street South, Kew, VIC 3101
  • (03) 9853 2111


Acne closeup

What is acne?

Acne is a common skin condition marked by persistent pimples, inflamed papules or sometimes nodules and cysts. Blackheads and whiteheads are also considered symptoms. Acne often appears on the face, but it can also be found on the neck, chest, shoulders and back. It is common in teenagers, but it affects people of all ages, including children.

One of the worst things about acne is the potential scarring it may cause, making facial skin look less than optimal. Because of this, acne often causes embarrassment and emotional distress.

The specialist dermatologists at Kew Dermatology are experts in managing acne for all ages. Read our information below if you would like to know more about acne treatment.

Acne FAQs

Your questions answered

What causes acne?

The pimples in acne form when the hair follicles in the skin are clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Oil production in the skin is increased by naturally circulating hormones called androgens, enabling bacteria to grow. This bacterial growth together with the oil overproduction and blockage causes pimples to form.

How is acne treated?

The exact cause of acne is unknown, but acne breakouts can be alleviated by targeting what produces the pimples themselves. The dermatologists at Kew Dermatology will suggest a treatment regime to target oil production, bacteria and blockage in the skin as well as hormone production (particularly in women).

For mild acne, we may prescribe topical medication and skin care products, such as retinoid, or antibiotic creams and lotions. For severe and scarring acne, however, oral isotretinoin (Roaccutane) is the most effective treatment. Note that in Australia, only dermatologists are allowed to prescribe isotretinoin (sample pamphlet: Oratane). When acne is severe, a specialist dermatologist’s opinion should be considered early, to prevent scarring that can last a lifetime.

Laser and light treatments for acne are sometimes offered as a cure by some cosmetic clinics, these sorts of treatments are often minimally or temporarily effective and can be expensive. It is important to have advice from a qualified medical practitioner such as your GP or a dermatologist if your acne is a problem.

Can anybody have isotretinoin (Roaccutane)?

Your dermatologist will determine whether your acne requires isotretinoin treatment.
Taking isotretinoin has some minimal risks, so consulting with a dermatologist  is a must. This is particularly important for female patients, who must strictly use contraception and MUST NOT become pregnant while on medication. In Australia, isotretinoin is a medication available only on prescription by a dermatologist.

How is acne scarring treated?

The best treatment for acne scarring is to prevent acne in the first place. For severe acne scarring, see our acne scarring page for descriptions of the treatments we can offer. If you’re thinking about laser treatment, make sure that your pimples have healed and only scars are left (i.e., there is no active acne). You should always consult a qualified specialist when considering any cosmetic procedures. The specialist dermatologists at Kew Dermatology can advise you on the best treatments for your type of scarring.

How about changing my diet?

Unfortunately, there is no known dietary cure for acne. The only scientific evidence available suggests that a high intake of dairy and sugar products is correlated with acne. Avoiding these foods will possibly reduce the severity of acne but not cure it.

Read this leaflet for the foods to avoid to prevent acne: Anti-acne Diet.

What does acne treatment cost?

Provided that you have a Medicare card and a referral from your GP, the out of pocket costs for your first visit are approximately $145. For international students, your private health insurance will usually cover a similar amount.

If you require isotretinoin treatment, you have to spend no more than you would for a standard medical prescription.

How long does it take to see an acne specialist?

At Kew Dermatology, patients with severe scarring acne are seen as soon as possible from their making a reservation. For urgent cases, your general practitioner can download and complete our urgent referral form and request an early appointment.

Ring our receptionists on 98532111 to book an appointment.