Acne is one of the most common dermatological skin conditions in the United States. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 85% of people have had acne at some point of their lives. Acne most commonly occurs in the teenage years, but can occur into adulthood as well. It doesn’t discriminate against men or women, teens or adults.
A common myth is that acne is caused from eating chocolate or junk food, but in reality, it occurs when pores (the openings to oil glands) become clogged with excess oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. These are often referred to as blackheads. The surrounding skin can react and become red and inflamed, showing up as a red pimple (papules or pustules).
Sometimes, inflammation can lead to even deeper, larger, and often painful bumps known as cysts. It is always important to seek an appointment with a dermatologist if you are getting painful acne cysts as these can lead to scarring.
Avoid Making Acne Worse
If you suffer from breakouts, there are a few things to avoid that have been shown to make acne worse:
Stay away from products that will further clog your pores. Look for products that are non-comedogenic.
Wash off sweat, dirt and oil after exercising and before bed.
Avoid picking or squeezing. This can lead to worsening inflammation and scarring.
Treatment Options for Acne
If acne isn’t improving, or if the condition of your skin is causing you to avoid social situations or leading to other mental anguish, visit a dermatologist right away. There are plenty of solutions for acne that our parents didn’t have access to!
Your dermatologist may recommend a variety of treatments based on your skin and type of acne you have. Common treatments can include:
Oral Antibiotics: They reduce inflammation, decreasing the amount and frequency of breakouts you have. Seysara, the newest oral antibiotic for acne, offers less sun sensitivity, less GI upset, and less chance of bacterial resistance that traditional antibiotics used for acne.
Topical therapy: Topicals range in active ingredients and strengths depending on the type of acne you have. Topicals kill bacteria, exfoliate, unclog pores, and reduce inflammation. Newer agents that combine medications to unplug pores as well as decrease inflammation, such as Epiduo and Twyneo, are popular first line acne treatments.
Acne Surgery: This procedure is performed in a dermatologist office and is used to safely extract blackheads and whiteheads.
CO2 slush: This procedure is performed in a dermatologist office to reduce redness and inflammation by applying a cold gel to the skin.
Hormone blockers – Birth control pills and spironolactone are common examples. Winlevi is a brand new topical hormone blocker.
New Innovations in Acne Treatment
There have been many innovations in acne treatment in recent years too. While we still use Accutane (Isotretinoin) for severe cases when it’s indicated, dermatologists now have access to things like lasers, near-infrared radio-frequency (RF) devices, and light-based therapies, which are becoming more common in acne treatment. The recently released AviClear laser device is the first energy device to be FDA approved for acne treatment and is currently being evaluated by our office for possible implementation.
No matter what your dermatologist recommends, it is important to be patient, because new regiments often take 8-12 weeks to produce results. Make sure to follow up with your dermatologist to track your improvement and make any necessary changes if needed. Most importantly, remember your skin is worth the time and patience you put into it. We’re here to help!