What is Acne?
Is there anyone over the age of 10 that has not suffered from a pimple at some point in their life?
Though people understand what it is like to have an Acne blemish on their face, most people do not understand why these pimples appear.
Knowing more about what Acne is and where it comes from can help you understand how to control these unwelcome visitors.
Blemishes can appear anywhere on your body and treatment can include prescription products, light based therapies, oral antibiotics, and topical over the counter creams.
What is Dr Anita’s Personal Experience with in Acne?
Dr. Anita personally suffered from severe cystic Acne as a young adult and is particularly sensitive to its potential emotional and social impact.
Dr. Anita will often see patients and prescribe a skincare regimen, as well as treatments such as chemical peels, IPL and laser treatments to alleviate Acne and prevent reoccurrence. On some occasions, Dr. Anita may prescribe medication although oral antibiotics are rarely prescribed in her practice.
What causes Acne?
Although the cause of acne is still unknown our present understanding is that it is associated with sebaceous glands working more than necessary, a bacterium called P. acne, and a blockage of the sebum. Overproduction of oil can clog your pores, trap and oxidize the material inside thereby forming what we call blackheads. Unfortunately, this dirt and oil mixture is also a great environment for bacteria to grow and the lesion to become inflamed, causing a cyst to appear. Inflammatory cystic acne requires medical treatment to prevent scarring. Hormones and carbohydrates have been associated with acne flairs as well but are not the actual causes of acne only contributing factors.
There are plenty of subtypes of Acne that can have specific triggers, but a dirty face does not cause acne. Also, we can control acne but there is no known cure. Another aggravating fact is acne is not just for teenagers but 20 percent of adults suffer with acne. My patients say, “Doc, I have a pimple in my wrinkle. Life is not fair.”
What Over the Counter medications are available?
There is no shortage of products on the market that are designed to help acne. Such ingredients as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide (i.e. Proactiv) are designed to treat only mild acne.
What Prescription Treatments are available?
In most cases a physician will start treatment with a stronger medication than is available over the counter. These will combine the active ingredients listed above with items like adapalene, tretinoin, or tazarotene which are made from vitamin A to encourage new, healthy skin cells to grow. A new area of research is nitrous oxide to decrease the inflammatory lesions. Since each acne sufferer responds to treatment differently, your doctor will inspect your skin to determine your skin type so they can recommend a unique treatment that are the most likely to control your Acne while minimizing side effects. You’ll need to talk to your doctor about how to use these products to avoid burning, stinging, peeling or redness that they can cause.
Isotretinoin or Accutane is a common oral medication that is prescribed for serious cases of Acne but it is important to be very careful if you will be using this medication because it can cause serious side effects. Isotretinoin has been strongly linked to birth defects when pregnant women use it. It also causes nosebleeds, dry eyes and lips, poor night vision and sensitivity to the sun. There is some speculation about whether this medication can increase cholesterol levels and depression when used for long periods of time. Regular appointments with your doctor during the course of this treatment are mandatory.
Acne treatment can include oral medications if topical medications do not seem to be controlling breakouts. These will usually be given in conjunction with topical medications.
How can I prevent worsening my Acne?
- No harsh cleansers. Though it may feel as if you are getting your skin really clean when you scrub at it, you are actually making your skin more sensitive and potentially over drying. Over drying can signal the skin to increase oil production and over scrubbing can inflame the lesions. Therefore, we do not recommend microdermabrasion on acneic skin.
- Avoid any kind of cleansers, lotions, makeup or product that contains oil. If oil from products starts clogging pores, breakouts may occur.
- Wear sunscreen. The UV rays from the sun will damage the skin and react with many of the treatments we prescribe making it more prone to Acne breakouts. We do not recommend potentially irritating chemical based sunscreen but a physical based block like Dr. Anita’s No More Tears Sunscreen which is a purely non-allergenic physical block which is non-irritating to skin and the eyes.
- Avoid squeezing pimples. This can spread the bacteria, damage the follicle and create more blemishes and scarring.
Should I take supplements to prevent breakouts? What dietary changes should I consider?
Taking supplements that boost your overall skin and immune health may help reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of Acne breakout. As for diet, sugars or carbohydrates do seem to play a role in acne so having a healthy low inflammatory lower carb diet has seemed to help control acne flairs.
Dr. Anita suggests the following treatments for this condition:
To learn more about Acne treatment options or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Anita click here!
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