Acne is the most common skin disorder in America. Acne breakouts impacts social and emotional well-being’ and when the acne is gone scars may remain. Acne is a condition involving the hair follicles of the skin. There are two types of acne, comedonal and inflammatory (commonly referred to as “cystic” or nodular acne) each has a wide range of severity and they often appear in the same person.
Nearly everyone develops acne to one degree or another due to hormonal changes which commonly lasts for the pre-teen and teen years. In fact, 85% of adolescents suffer with acne. It can affect people of all ages. Many cases resolve with age, but in some acne may continue into their 20’s or 30’s, and older women may see a resurgence of acne due to hormone changes. When you have acne on your face, chest, back and/or shoulders that is not responding to over the counter products, it is time to see a dermatologist.
Inadequately treated, acne can cause permanent scarring and significantly impair confidence and self-esteem.
What causes acne?
Several factors contribute to the development of acne including hormones, genetics, bacteria, dead skin cells and clogged pores. Acne flares are related to:
- Hormone imbalances
- Steroids, B vitamins, anticonvulsants, and others
- Occlusive cosmetics or moisturizers
- High environmental humidity (such as flares with travel)
- High insulin levels from high glycemic foods (refined carbohydrates and sugar) can worsen acne
What are black heads and white heads?
Black heads are clogged hair follicles (comedones) that are open. When they are closed, they are called whiteheads. Pimples are pustules. Acne involves comedones, pustules and papules.
How do you get acne?
A buildup of dead skin cells blocks the opening of the hair follicle that is filled with sebum. The sebum is trapped. Bacteria grow in the sebum and cause inflammation which creates a pimple.
How is it treated?
There are many professional acne treatments available. Medical treatments are the backbone of treatment designed to cause acne to remit. They target the reasons we get acne. Such treatments include topical retinoids to normalize oil gland production and reduce inflammation; topical antibiotics and benzoyl peroxide solutions kill the acne bacteria; topical salicylic acid and Glycolic acid pads are used to exfoliate the skin and prevent clogging of the pores; and a good sun block made for acne-prone skin is essential to prevent dark spots left after acne. Oral antibiotics are often used in combination with topical medications.
Depending upon the causes of your acne oral medications may be recommended. Isotretinoin (Accutane) may be recommended in the most severe cases. Oral contraceptive pills are recommended to treat hormonal acne in girls and women; and spironolactone is recommended for cystic acne.
Exfoliation is key to preventing clogged pores. Microdermabrasion and chemical peels used twice a month can clear acne and reveal healthy unblemished skin. Laser and light treatments such as Photodynamic therapy and Blu-U light treatments are used to clear acne. Intense pulsed light treatments may be recommended to kill the acne bacteria.
When you or a loved is suffering with acne, contact Dr. Ritu Saini in New York City. She is a board-certified dermatologist who offers state of the art, compassionate care. Contact Dr. Saini to schedule a consultation to receive the correct diagnosis and treatment a treatment plan to address your needs.