Acne Treatment

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions and often causes insecurities and embarrassment. Luckily, now there are many great treatments available depending on the severity of the acne.

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What is it?
Acne is caused by several factors that usually work together to cause whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules and cysts. Large acne lesions may lead to permanent scarring, so it is important to get your acne treated as soon as possible.

  1. Hormones: Acne usually begins at puberty, when the body begins to produce hormones called androgens. These hormones cause the sebaceous glands (oil glands) to enlarge. In those with acne, the sebaceous glands are over stimulated and create extra sebum.
  2. Excess Sebum: Sebum (oil) is a normal occurrence in the skin. However, the presence of extra sebum from the sebaceous glands mixes with dead skin cells and causes a clogging of the hair follicle. The extra oil also allows for growth of bacteria in the pores.
  3. Bacteria: The bacterium Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) are found in everyone’s skin. It overgrows in the presence of excess sebum and creates inflammation in the follicle and surrounding skin.
  4. Inflammation: This is caused by your body’s defense mechanism. It is able to sense the extra bacteria and the immune system activates an army of white blood cells to attack the bacteria. This is what causes acne to become red and swollen. If there is a lot of inflammation in the follicle, it will rupture underneath the skin and cause an acne cyst – a swollen tender nodule deep within the skin.

Who does it affect?
It is most prevalent in those in their teens and 20’s, but it can affect babies and adults as well. It is not uncommon for women to develop acne in their late 30s-40s.

Scarring caused by inflammatory acne.
Back acne.

What can be done about acne?
There are many different forms of treatment, depending on the type and severity of your acne. Harsh scrubbing of the skin is dangerous and your body will continue to produce more oil, so scrubbing is of no benefit. Treatment generally consists of topical or oral medications of varying degrees, chemical peels, acne extractions and intralesional cortisone injections. Lasers treatments may also be of benefit. Finding the right treatment regime for your skin and lifestyle is important since your skin is unique. Being consistent with medications is extremely important, and it is necessary to remember that some medications will take up to 8 weeks to begin working, so improvement will not be immediate and you need to continue using the prescribed treatment even if you feel it is not working.

What can I do about my scars?
Acne scars are an ugly reminder of the embarrassment suffered from acne, and they can have a major emotional impact on our lives. Luckily, there are ways to improve or eliminate the scars. Chemical peels, bleaching agents, lasers such as the Mixto resurfacing laser, intense pulsed light, and V-beam are all ways to greatly reduce the discoloration and skin depressions left from acne. Occasionally, we need to surgically remove a scar, in which case you are left with a small flat scar, usually barely noticeable, instead of a deep hole in your skin. In most cases we can significantly improve the appearance of your scars through one of these modalities.

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