What is Acne?
Acne is the most common skin conditions experienced in the United States. In actuality, around 80% of the world’s population will experience acne at some point in their lifetime.
This condition is marked by irritated (overactive) sebaceous glands across the body, though many develop acne on their facial skin. These glands are responsible for sweat and oil production; when they become clogged or infected, we experience those pesky pimples that can range in color from red, yellow, to white.
While some people experience acne as a result of their genetics, or during puberty, many people can develop acne due to stress or poor dietary habits that can cause breakouts all over the body. Breakouts can also occur as a result of pregnancy and even certain medications. Acne can be painful and leave scarring, in addition to becoming a point of insecurity of many men and women.
Who Can Develop Acne?
Many people think that acne is only a condition that affects teens due to the changes in their hormones. The truth, however, is that acne can affect men and women well into their 30’s and 40s – and beyond!
Some people may grow out of their acne with age, while others struggle with cystic acne or occasional breakouts well past adulthood.
Types of Acne
There are many types of acne, each with potential difference causes and treatment options. Not all acne is created equal, and certain types are more likely to scar or difficult to control without dermatological care.
Acne can present in many forms and variations including:
These pesky pimples are instantly recognizable for the bubble of sebum and dead skin cells that usually rests in the center of a red, irritated lump. Whiteheads are common, but people with oil-prone skin are more likely to develop this type of acne.
The result of a clogged pore, blackheads are filled with oxidized sebum that blocks and enlarges the pore over time. Many people choose to try and pop out blackheads at home or use pore strips to reduce their appearance, but they are a persistent problem that the majority of people experience.
Pustules are a type of acne that commonly gets confused for whiteheads. This type of acne is recognizable for red bumps that are filled with pus – rather than a white bubble on a red lump. Similarly to whiteheads, many people try to pop pustules at home, though this is not recommended as it can lead to further infection and scarring.
Cysts are a severe type of acne that causes infection to occur deep within the skin, resulting in pain, redness, inflammation, and a large bump appearing on the skin. This type of acne is likely to persist past someone’s teenage years and can occur across the face, chest, arms, back, and neck. Those with cystic acne are more prone to developing scarring.
Experienced by teenagers, for the most part, hormonal acne is caused by changes in hormone levels and an increase in testosterone. Trans individuals, however, can also develop hormonal acne as a result of HRT. People with hormonal acne can experience whiteheads, blackheads, and other types of acne.
Similar to hormonal acne, pregnancy acne is caused by the fluctuations in hormones that women experience. Women most commonly develop pregnancy acne during the first and second trimester as a result of increased androgens in the body.
What Causes Acne?
Each sebaceous gland is connected to a hair follicle, leaving it prone to becoming clogged. Typically, dead skin cells can obstruct the follicle and create whiteheads or blackheads since the oil has nowhere to escape to.
Everyone has a bacteria known as P. acnes that live on our skin. Once a pore is blocked, these bacteria begin to feed on the dead skin cells while emitting toxic acids that create an inflammatory reaction. The result of this is the creation of a pustule.
Hormonal changes, dietary problems, stress, medications, the products you use, and genetics can all cause acne to develop as well.
Treatment Options for Acne
When it comes to treating acne, thankfully, there are a lot of options available to you. Here are some of the most common acne treatments recommended by Dr. Ip at Vibrant Dermatology:
- Acne Extraction: This treatment gives your skin an added boost by removing the pore plugs that prevent you from effectively cleansing the skin. With the comedones gone, your skincare routine will be much more effective, as any cleansers you use will be able to penetrate more deeply and destroy acne-causing bacteria.
- Chemical Peels: Some chemical peels, like the glycolic acid peel, can be very effective as part of an acne treatment routine. These peels reduce acne by exfoliating the skin and unclogging pores in a safe way.
- Topical Treatments: For many patients, topical treatments can be an effective option for getting their acne under control. Unfortunately, over-the-counter brands may not have active ingredient concentrations that are strong enough to clear the pores and reduce inflammation. In such cases, prescription-strength creams may be a viable option. Further, anti-bacterial creams may also be a good solution for some patients.
- Skin Care Routine: In some cases, the patient’s acne can be partly the result of a poorly-designed skincare routine. To help you control your acne, one of our expert providers can help you assess your current skincare routine and figure out how it can be improved.
- Prescription Medication: Patients struggling with severe acne, like cystic acne, may need a more aggressive form of treatment that involves oral medication.
- Laser treatments: We offer the state of the art NeoSKin laser treatment. The NeoSkin Laser suppresses sebum production, kills P. acnes bacteria, and reduces inflammation. The results of this laser can be as effective as a 5-month course of Accutane.
Leave your skincare to the experts. Acne is a common condition that requires professional care to treat in order to avoid scarring and worsening of your symptoms. If you would like to experience premier dermatological care to achieve beautiful and healthy skin, please schedule your appointment with Dr. Ip today.