Tackling the Teenage Nightmare: Basics about Acne
You wake up in the morning and there it is: a huge zit in the middle of your face. It seems like no amount of concealer can cover it up, and you feel like everyone is looking at the blemish all day long. Acne is the most common skin disorder in the United States, affecting approximately 50 million Americans. Nearly 85 percent of all people have acne at some point in their lives, most often on their face, chest, and back. Read on to learn how to prevent and treat acne.
Facts About Acne
- Acne is characterized by comedones (black heads and white heads), pimples, and deeper lumps (cysts or nodules) that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and even the upper arms.
- Acne usually begins in puberty and is the most common skin disease, especially in adolescents and young adults, but can occur at any stage of life.
- By mid-teens, more than 40 percent of adolescents have acne or acne scarring which requires treatment by a dermatologist.
- There are often significant physical and psychological side effects associated with acne, such as permanent scarring, poor self-image, depression, or anxiety.
What Causes Acne?
The exact cause of acne is unknown, but there are many factors that can contribute to the development of acne, including:
- Overactive sebaceous oil glands produce too much oil
- Pores in the skin get clogged from outside substances like makeup, pollution, or additional oil. Once a pore is blocked, the bacterium P. Acnes (present in everyone’s skin) multiplies in the excess oil and leads to inflammation in the skin
- Heredity/genetics, hormones, menstruation, and emotional stress can bring on acne or worsen it.
Despite popular belief, foods such as chocolate and greasy foods like French fries and pizza do not cause acne. However, some people could have sensitivities certain foods that could contribute to acne or make it worse. For overall good health, it’s best to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Taking Care of Acne-Prone Skin
If you have skin that is prone to breakouts, there are steps you can take to keep your skin balanced, healthy, and minimize breakouts:
- Gently wash affected areas once or twice a day with mild, non-drying soap. Vigorous washing and scrubbing can irritate your skin and make acne worse.
- Shampoo your hair often: daily if it’s oily.
- Use “non-comedogenic” (does not clog pores) and oil-free cosmetics, toiletries, and sunscreens.
- Avoid astringents, which may unnecessarily dry the skin.
- To prevent scars, do not pop, squeeze or pick at acne, however tempting it may be.
- Seek treatment early for severe acne that does not respond to over-the-counter medications.
How to Treat Acne
If your acne is recurring and doesn’t respond to good skin care and over-the-counter treatments, a dermatologist can prescribe treatment regimen that will work best for your skin:
To treat moderate and severe acne and acne that is resistant to topical therapy, many dermatologists turn to oral antibiotics. Combination therapies using oral antibiotics and topical retinoids have been found effective in managing acne. It is best if less severe forms of acne are not treated with oral antibiotics, and if possible, the duration of antibiotic therapy should be limited because of increase of bacterial resistance.
Use medications and products prescribed for your acne ad directed and allow enough time for them to take effect, which may be 8 to 12 weeks. Oral isotretinoin is the only medication approved for severe recalcitrant nodulo-cystic acne, the most serious form of this skin disease. Mood disorders, depression, suicidal ideation, and suicides have been reported in patients taking oral isotretinoin. However, a causal relationship has not been established.
Laser resurfacing, chemical peels and fillers provide safe and effective treatment for acne and acne scarring. Since acne scars are unique in their appearance and often have complex characteristics, patients should consult with their dermatologist to determine an individualized treatment plan for the most successful result. Blue light is a gentle, non-invasive treatment for acne. Treatments are simple: only 16 minutes once every 2 weeks for a total of 5 treatments. It is drug free and painless.
Even if it might seem impossible, your acne is treatable. You can best treat your acne once you learn its causes and the best ways to treat it according to your skin type. If you struggle with acne and are ready for professional help, APEX Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center can find the right solution for you.
Dr. Garcia-Zuazaga is an accomplished dermatologist and Mohs Surgeon, and is Board Certified by the American Board of Dermatology. His practice, APEX Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center, has offices throughout Northeast Ohio, including Solon, Mayfield Heights, and Concord, Hudson, and Parma.
SAME-DAY-APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE. CALL 440-349-SKIN (7546)
In most cases, depending on the level of care you need and the time of day when you call, you can be seen that day. Call us at 440-349-SKIN (7546) and ask for a same-day appointment.