Acne in South African black adults: A retrospective study in the private sector

  • T.P. Zulu
  • A Mosam
  • Y Balakrishna
  • N.C. Dlova


Background. Acne vulgaris is the most common skin disorder affecting teenagers and young adults, and is becoming increasingly common in middle-aged women. It affects all skin types and ethnic groups, but dark-skinned individuals are burdened by post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) as a sequela. PIH causes distress in acne patients even after the inflammatory lesions have resolved.

Objective. To describe the characteristics of acne in black South African adults in the private health sector in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province.

Methods. A retrospective study of records of patients attending two large private dermatology clinics in central Durban, mainly catering for black patients, was performed. Data were collected for the period January - December 2014. Records with acne as a diagnosis were retrieved and analysed with regard to age, demographics, type and severity of acne, therapy, HIV status and outcomes.

Results. Of a total of ~3 000 charts available for the 12-month period, 242 had acne as a diagnosis and were retrieved and analysed. Of these patients, 204 (84.3%) were female and the remainder were male. The mean age was 28.5 years (under-18s were excluded from the study). Inflammatory acne was the most frequently encountered form (58.6%). Fifteen patients (6.2%) were on topical treatment only, and 226 (93.4%) were on topical plus systemic treatment. PIH was the most common sequela (81.0% of patients).

Conclusions. The majority of the patients were young females with inflammatory acne, and PIH was the most common sequela. Early and vigorous treatment of acne may minimise its complications, including those seen mainly in black patients.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135