Acne is a common condition that causes clogged pores, pimples, cysts and other lesions on the skin of the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and upper arms. Adults of any age, and teens can suffer from acne. Acne and acne scarring can lead to physical distress and self confidence issues. There are several effective treatment methods that improve the skin‘s appearance and prevent future breakouts.
Causes of Acne
Acne develops when pores become clogged, either from an overproduction of oil, a buildup of bacteria or a 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, heredity and, in some cases, the use of certain medications. Many inflammatory skin conditions have been linked to gut microbes including acne, rosacea and eczema. It's unlikely the gut health is the sole cause of acne, but it could be a contributor.
A professional skin analysis and following a home care routine that is specific to your current skin health will get you moving on the right path to healthy, blemish free skin.
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. There are many different ingredients that can help with acne so it's important to discuss your concerns with someone that specializes in corrective skin care. Prescriptions should be used in patients that don't respond to professional treatments and a quality home care routine.
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 to moderate forms of acne, may contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic 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 to severe 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.
Certain procedures may be recommended to treat scarring caused by acne and post inflammatory pigment. They include microneedling, chemical peels and laser treatments and dermaplaning. Many patients experience effective results from these types of treatments, which help to smooth the skin and remove the scars created by severe acne.
Each patient is different and how the skin heals and responds to treatments can vary depending on age, current skin health, post care and your lifestyle choices.
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 a cleanser two times per day
- Using an anti bacterial serum to combat bacteria
- Avoiding sun exposure and wearing a physical sunscreen that is specific to acne prone skin
- Avoiding constant touching of the skin
Patients should also avoid picking or squeezing blemishes as it can lead to post inflammatory pigment, scarring and redness that doesn't heal properly.