Medicine: Blight of Youth

To the anguished adolescent who feels disfigured by the pimples of acne, many doctors merely give a reassuring "You'll grow out of it," and let it go at that. At the other extreme, dermatologists have tried every conceivable remedy—vitamin A, vaccines, soaps, yeast, antiseptics, astringents, diets, hormones, ultraviolet and X rays, warnings against "picking." Despite such efforts, acne continues to afflict vast numbers of adolescents (variously estimated as 50% to 90%), many with skin-scarring, soul-searing severity.

In Britain's authoritative Lancet, acne gets the full treatment from a top Harley Street skin specialist, Robert M. B. MacKenna. Balancing himself between the do-nothing and...

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