What is acne?
Acne is clinically known as Acne Vulgaris and is a skin condition that involves the sebaceous (oil) glands at the base of the hair follicles (pores). It is very common to see this condition during puberty. Acne forms when the hair follicles are clogged under the skin. Normally, an oily substance called sebum is produced by the glands to carry dead skin cells through the follicles to the surface of the skin. When these follicles become blocked, oil will accumulate under the skin and acne is formed. It will usually appear on the face, back, neck, shoulders and chest.
Acne usually appears on the skin as occluded pores (blackheads or whiteheads), red bumps (pimples or zits), pustules, or cysts. This condition is not serious, but if proper attention is not given, acne can lead to scarring.
What causes acne?
Doctors cannot pinpoint exactly what causes acne, but believe that it is due to a combination of factors. The rise in the level of androgen hormones during adolescence has been identified as a primary cause of acne. Increase in the levels of androgens causes the oil glands to enlarge and produce more oil. Follicles become clogged with dead skin cell and oil. Acne bacteria use the oil as a source of energy to multiply causing inflammation that leads to acne.
It is also believed that genetics can predispose a person to suffer from acne. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also lead to acne even if this was never a problem before you conceived. For some people, cosmetics, and certain medications cause them to have breakouts.
There is no proven link between greasy and fried food to acne. However, carbohydrate-rich foods, such as chips, candy, and bread, may worsen acne. Stress does not cause acne but can also make it worse.
How is acne treated?
Mild acne is usually treated with over-the-counter topical medications. These can be bought at your local pharmacy without the need for a prescription. Acne products will usually contain any of the following active ingredients:
- Benzoyl Peroxide
- Salicylic Acid
For more severe cases of acne, dermatologists recommend one of the following for management: prescription topical antimicrobials, prescription topical retinoids, oral antibiotics, oral contraceptives, or isotretinoin. Anti-inflammatory cortisone injections are sometimes used for persistent, isolated acne lesions. If over-the-counter medications have not worked for you, contact our clinic so that we can help. Our providers will make an accurate assessment of your type of acne and work to create an effective, individualized plan for you.