Acne (i.e. “zits, pimples, blackheads, whiteheads”) can come in many forms. While acne can strike at any age, it is s commonly affects most young people in their teens. If your mom or dad had it, chances are so will you. Acne tends to have a family predisposition. In fact, most people with severe, cystic acne have a parent who has had it in the past.
Outbreaks can come in all forms, including:
- comedones (i.e. blackheads),
- small bumps,
- pustules (whiteheads) and
- painful nodulocystic acne (painful bumps and cysts under the skin).
Some acne can result in pitting scars that remain long after the outbreak has cleared. It appears predominately on the face, chest and back. Acne can last for weeks to months and can often be worse in the fall and winter.
What Causes Acne?
Acne is caused by multiple things including:
- Plugged hair follicles
- Effects of hormones (i.e. Androgens) during puberty in general, around the time of menstruation each month, or any hormonal changes (i.e. Pregnancy and menopause states).
- Increased bacteria (Proprionibacterium acnes)
- Using body building supplements
Sometime using certain drugs can cause an acne eruptions. These include:
- steroids (anabolic steroids, oral corticosteroids-like Prednisone- and injected steroids)
- oral contraceptives,
- bromides and
Now that you have acne, what do you do about it?
Common thinking is to “scrub the acne away” by harsh cleansers, buff puffs, loofas, masks and excessive daily washing. The opposite is actually what is recommended! Using gentle cleansers (such as CeraVe, Cetaphil) or Glycolic cleansers (i.e. Vivite, Aqua Glycolic) twice a day can improve the outbreak and decrease chances of further inflaming the bumps with harsh cleansing.
Sometimes the acne is mild. Regular, daily, simple cleansing routine and perhaps the addition of some topical medications can help.
For acne not responding to OTC measures, tretinoin is considered the first line prescription treatment.
With more intense outbreaks, oral medications may are needed. Common medications used for acne, depending upon the severity, are:
- topical Benzoyl Peroxide preparations,
- topical antibiotics such as Clindamycin or Erythromycin,
- Topical retinoids (i.e. Retin-A)
Oral Contraceptives can help as well depending upon when the acne erupts (i.e. around menses). When outbreaks are severe and/or scarring occurs, an oral Vitamin A derivative called Isotretinoin (commonly called “Accutane”) is necessary which requires a 4-6 month regimen of 1-2 pills daily.
Be patient. Most people eventually “grow out” of their acne by their late teens or early 20’s. However ‘adult acne’ may be await you in your thirties or later due to hormones. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
If acne is bothering you or a loved one, make an appointment to talk about with Associates of Dermatology. We can get you started on the path to managing it. Acne cannot be “cured.” However, medications can be used to control it better and cause outbreaks to be much less severe.