Acne is a skin condition that causes pimples or "zits." This includes whiteheads, blackheads, and red, inflammed patches of skin (such as cysts).
It is a common problem in adolescence, but can happen at any age group. The severity may vary from one individual to another, from minor acne pimples to very severe acne scarring. Prevention of acne is better than cure, hence understanding the causes, pathology and treatments can help you prevent sequelae of acne.
What causes acne?
Acne occurs when tiny holes on the surface of the skin become clogged. These holes are called pores. Each pore opens to a follicle. A follicle contains a hair and an oil gland. When glands produce too much oil, the pores can become blocked. Dirt, bacteria, and cells build up. The blockage is called a plug or comedone. If bacteria start growing in that plug, they set up an inflammation causing redness and pus.
If the top of the plug is white, it is called a whitehead.
If the top of the plug is dark, it is called a blackhead.
If the plug breaks open, swelling and red bumps occur.
Acne that is deep in your skin can cause hard, painful cysts. This is called cystic acne.
When our body controls that infection, it may lead to scarring.
Why is it happening in me?
The commonest cause is an upsurge of hormones that increases the oil production and cell multiplication of the pores.
Although it may run in families indicating a genetic trait, it may be triggered by:
Hormonal changes related to puberty, menstrual periods, pregnancy, birth control pills, or stress.
Greasy or oily cosmetic and hair products.
Certain drugs (such as steroids, testosterone, estrogen, and phenytoin).
High levels of humidity and sweating.
Is my diet causing my acne?
Following a strict diet will not clear your skin. While some people feel that their acne is aggravated by certain foods, particularly chocolate, colas, peanuts, shellfish and some fatty foods, there is no scientific evidence that suggests this. However, diets high in refined sugars may be related to acne Avoid any foods which seem to worsen your acne and, for your overall health, eat a balanced diet--but diet shouldn't really matter if the acne is being appropriately treated. It is important to drink plenty of water to reduce the stickiness of the oily secretions.
Who should seek treatment?
Any person who is getting more than the minimal number of acne pimples, along with whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, inflamed pustules or acne scarring should seek treatment. Early treatment can prevent the destruction of the skin texture and appearance. Prevention is better than cure. However, people with lots of acne scarring can also seeks treatment to improve the appearance.
Where do I begin?
A consultation with your Aesthetic Plastic surgeon at Aesthetics is the first step to learn how acne treatments can improve your overall appearance. This consultation will fully educate you in a non-pressured environment and will include a discussion of your goals, options available for acne treatments, likely outcomes, potential risks and complications.
What are my treatment options?
The intensity of treatment would depend on the severity of the acne problem. What is important and considered basic is the SELF-CARE.
Steps you can take to help your acne:
Clean your skin gently with a mild, nondrying soap (such as Dove, Neutrogena, Cetaphil,). Remove all dirt or make-up. Wash once or twice a day, including after exercising. However, avoid scrubbing or repeated skin washing.
Shampoo your hair daily, especially if it is oily. Comb or pull your hair back to keep the hair out of your face.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Avoiding oily or fatty high sugar foods.
What If these steps do not clear up the blemishes?
Try over-the-counter acne medications. You apply these products directly to your skin.
They may contain benzoyl peroxide, or salicylic acid. They work by killing bacteria, drying up skin oils, or causing the top layer of your skin to peel. They may cause redness or peeling of the skin.
If pimples are still a problem, antibiotics may help kill the bacteria causing the infection:
Oral antibiotics (taken by mouth) such as tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline, erythromycin, trimethoprim, and amoxicillin.
Topical antibiotics (applied to the skin) such as clindamycin, erythromycin, or dapsone.
Creams or gels applied to the skin may be prescribed which help in regulating cell multiplication:
Retinoic acid cream or gel (tretinoin, Retin-A).
Topical azelaic acid.
For women whose acne is caused or made worse by hormones:
A pill called spironolactone may help.
Birth control pills may help in some cases, though they may make acne worse.
A laser procedure called photodynamic therapy.
Your doctor at Aesthetics Medispa may also suggest chemical skin peeling, removal of scars by dermabrasion, or removal, drainage, or injection of cysts with cortisone.
What are the things I should not do?
Try not to squeeze, scratch, pick, or rub the pimples. Although it might be tempting to do this, it can lead to skin infections and scarring.
Avoid wearing tight headbands, baseball caps, and other hats.
Avoid touching your face with your hands or fingers.
Avoid greasy cosmetics or creams. Take off make-up at night. Look for water-based or "noncomedogenic" formulas. Noncomedogenic products have been tested and proven not to clog pores and cause acne.
What should I Expect from the treatment (prognosis)?
Acne usually goes away after the teenage years, but it may last into middle age. The condition often responds well to treatment after six to eight weeks, but it may flare up from time to time.
Scarring may occur if severe acne is not treated. Some people, especially teenagers, can become very depressed if acne is not treated.