Acne is a common condition that causes blocked pores, pimples, cysts, and other lesions on the skin of the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms. Although teenagers are often affected, adults of any age can suffer from acne as well. While acne is not life-threatening, it can often lead to physical disfigurement, causing a decrease in one’s self-esteem as well as emotional distress.
Luckily, however, there are several effective treatment methods we are happy to provide for our patients that can help improve the skin‘s appearance and prevent future breakouts.
What Causes Acne?
Acne develops when pores become clogged, either from an overproduction of oil, a buildup of bacteria, or the shedding of dead skin cells. When oil, bacteria, or dead skin cells build up in the hair follicle, they form a soft plug that forces the follicle wall to bulge and protrude from the skin, causing a lesion. The cause of excess oil production is unknown but is believed to involve a combination of several factors, including hormones, bacteria, and, in some cases, the use of certain medications. Contrary to popular belief, chocolate, greasy foods, and dirty skin do not cause acne.
In the first few months of life, some infants have acne. This is a common condition caused by exposure to maternal hormones in the womb; it clears up on its own within a few weeks or months.
What are the Symptoms of Acne?
Although they can appear anywhere, symptoms of acne usually appear on the face, neck, shoulders, back, or chest. Symptoms of acne may include the following:
These symptoms can come and go and may flare up at certain times as a result of hormonal or environmental triggers such as pregnancy, menstrual periods, high levels of humidity, using oily cosmetics or hair products, and taking certain medications. Severe cases of acne may cause scarring, which can have a damaging emotional effect on the sufferer. If acne symptoms do not respond to over-the-counter treatments, or if scarring develops as the acne clears up, a dermatologist should be consulted.
Is Acne Hereditary?
While there are many environmental factors that can cause acne, oftentimes, acne is hereditary. Many children and teens who suffer from acne have parents or siblings who had or have acne, especially during their younger years as well. Other health conditions that may cause other complications such as hormonal imbalances can be hereditary also, making your skin genetically more prone to acne.
Which Treatments Can Get Rid of Acne?
Treatment methods for acne aim to reduce oil production and increase the speed of skin-cell turnover to prevent new blemishes from developing. Acne treatment also focuses on reducing inflammation to help treat current symptoms. Treatment may include a combination of topical creams and ointments, and prescription medications that include antibiotics and oral contraceptives.
Topical creams and ointments applied to the affected area are often the first form of treatment used to treat acne. Over-the-counter creams and ointments, which are used to treat mild forms of acne, may contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or lactic acid as their active ingredient. Prescription topical treatments may contain higher concentrations of these active ingredients, as well as retinoic or azelaic acid.
ORAL PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS
Moderate cases of acne can often be treated with prescription oral antibiotics, which reduce bacteria and inflammation. They are often combined with topical treatments. Isotretinoin may be prescribed for severe cases of acne that do not respond to other treatment methods. In some cases, oral contraceptives are prescribed for women to treat moderate cases of acne.
How Long Do Acne Scars Last?
Unfortunately, the skin texture and appearance of scarring left behind from acne, even after acne is cleared can remain for the rest of your life. However, advanced technology has allowed for specialized acne scarring treatments to reduce the appearance of scarring and restore smoothness to your skin.
Certain procedures may be recommended to treat scarring caused by acne. They include skin fillers, dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, and laser treatment. Many patients experience effective results from these types of treatments, which help to smooth the skin and remove the scars created by severe acne. It may take up to eight weeks before results from treatment are apparent, and acne may get worse before getting better.
Does Stress Trigger Acne?
While stress and other mental conditions such as depression or anxiety are not a direct cause of acne, they can still have an impact on existing acne. Stress and other emotional triggers can often cause certain hormones to increase, and if this causes an overall hormonal imbalance, acne can worsen. Stress releases cortisol in the body, affecting hormones and changing the skin’s immunity. This type of acne looks similar in appearance to the acne teenagers get when going through puberty. Eliminating stressful factors from your life can help to relieve the amplification of this acne.
How Can Acne Be Prevented?
Although acne cannot always be prevented, there are certain ways to reduce the risk of breakouts. They include the following:
- Avoiding heavy or oily cosmetics
- Removing makeup before going to bed
- Using mild cleansers
- Avoiding sun exposure
- Avoiding constant touching of the skin
Patients should also avoid picking or squeezing blemishes and should be aware of anything that comes in contact with the affected area, because it may contain unwanted bacteria.
Schedule A Consultation
Are you tired of the discomfort from your acne, hiding your face, or feeling unconfident about the skin you’re in? It’s time to put yourself first! The team at ADF Dermatology is here and ready to help. Contact us today to learn more about which acne treatments are right for you.