Have acne? You are not alone. Over 40 million people in America, mostly teens and young adults, have acne. However, newborns, children and all aged adults can also be affected. The good news is that at virtually any age you can have clearer skin.
What is Acne
Acne is not just pimples, it may consist of blackheads, whiteheads, papules (red bumps) pustules (the traditional pimple) and cysts (deep lesions which do not come to a head). These can occur on the face, back, chest, neck, shoulders and upper arms.
What Causes Acne
When hormones change at puberty, oil production increases in the skin. A skin bacteria called P. acnes lives on everyone’s skin. With the increase in oil, the bacteria multiply in the pores. The combo of oil and bacteria in the pores is very irritating to the surrounding skin so the pore becomes red and swollen. The inflammation can go deep into the skin and cause acne cysts.
DIET: Foods that cause high blood sugars, such as white bread and sugary snacks may worsen acne. Smoking also makes acne worse. Drinking organic milk vs regular milk may be helpful
Treatment has many benefits most obviously clearer and better looking skin but also the prevention of acne scarring and improvement of self-esteem and confidence.
TOPICAL TREATMENT: These are medications applied to the skin. These help treat mild to moderate acne and for more severe acne are combined with oral medication. These work both to treat and prevent blemishes so should be applied to the entire area affected by acne, not just the acne spots. These include retinoids, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid and antibiotics such as dapsone, clindamycin and others. Some of these are prescription and some are over the counter. Specific moisturizers may also be recommended to combat dryness and acne washes suggested to help treatment.
SYSTEMIC TREATMENT: For moderate to severe acne prescription antibiotics may be recommended in addition to topical treatments. For women who have acne hormonal therapy may be effective with birth control pills with or without added spironolactone. For very severe acne Isotretinoin may be indicated. This medication is not for everyone and special precautions must be taken in females.
OTHER MODALITIES: Omnilux, alternating blue and red light therapy may be added to further clearance of acne and and certain lasers can also help with skin smoothness.
SCAR TREATMENT: The best treatment for scars is prevention! If acne scarring does occur, it can be treated by a variety of modalities. These include Micro Needling, Fraxel Laser and IPL lasers.
GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS: Be patient, it takes time to see results and may take at least 8 weeks to see progress. To continue seeing results treat acne even after your skin has cleared to maintain good results. Be gentle to your skin, do not pick or squeeze pimples and use non-comedogenic products. Do not seek a tan to treat your acne. Sun damages your skin and many acne medications make you sun sensitive.