Acne Treatment

As one of the most common skin diseases, our board-certified dermatologists have extensive training with diagnosing and treating acne.

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become blocked with oil and dead skin cells, eventually erupting into pimples. Normally, dead skin cells rise to surface of the pore, and the body sheds the cells. When the body starts to increase sebum production (oil that keeps our skin from drying out), the dead skin cells can stick together inside the pore. Instead of rising to the surface, the cells become trapped inside the pore.

Sometime bacteria that live on our skin, P. Acnes, are also trapped inside clogged pores or the oil gland/ hair follicle unit. When this occurs, the bacteria have a perfect environment for multiplying very quickly. This leads to increased inflammation and pustules, or if the inflammation goes deep into the skin, an acne cyst or nodule appears. 

Acne is typically found on the face, neck, back, shoulders and chest, and while it is associated with adolescence, people of many different ages can develop acne for a number of reasons. 

Causes

Causes of acne are usually a combination of the following:

  • Genetics
  • Hormones
  • Prescribed medications
  • Oil-based cosmetics
  • Stress
  • Physical irritation
  • Humidity and environmental pollutants

If you have a bad case of acne, you may feel like you are the only one. Persistent acne can cause emotional distress, and some types can permanently scar the skin. But many people have acne, and there are a number of effective treatments for acne.

Symptoms

Acne is not just pimples. A person who has acne can have any of these blemishes:

  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Papules-small pink bumps that may be tender to touch
  • Pustules- Blockages of the pores and sebaceous glands that have become inflamed
  • Cysts-Deep, inflamed, pus-filled lumps
  • Nodules- Large, painful, solid lumps that are lodged deep in the skin
  • Excessive oil

Acne can cause more than blemishes. Studies show that people who have acne can have:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Dark spots on the skin
  • Permanent scars

Treatment

There are numerous ways to treat acne, and typically a combination of treatments is required. For the most effective treatment, medical history and examination of the acne lesions to determine their exact nature is required. Sometimes systemic factors contribute to acne. These conditions can be: pregnancy, medications, underlying systemic medical problems, menstrual or psychological issues.

Occupational issues may also play a role in producing acne.

One should not pop, squeeze or pick at acne. This is the most common habit found in acne patients and might worsen common acne, causing cystic lesions, hyperpigmentation or permanent scarring of the skin. While acne cannot be prevented or cured, there are treatments to help lessen the severity of the acne and avoid scars. 

Among the most common treatments are:

  • Over-the-counter topical medications containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid
  • Topical antibiotics
  • Topical retinoids
  • Oral medications
  • Hormonal therapies
  • Corticosteroids

There are also a number of procedures that can be used to control or treat acne related symptoms and acne scarring:

  • Light and laser therapies
  • Chemical peels
  • Acne surgery
  • microdermabrasion