Current dermatological research maintains that acne is caused by blocked pores in the skin.
These individual comedones (whether blackheads or whiteheads) can remain in the skin for extended periods of time. Sebum (an oily substance secreted from glands in your skin) and bacteria sometimes spreads to surrounding pores, clogging them up, which triggers the formation of more acne.
For those suffering from severe cases of acne, the sebum can form into cysts or nodules deep within the layers of the skin.
The appearance of acne may be sporadic, but it can be worsened by a few conditions. For example, changes in hormone levels will affect acne, particularly for adolescents and for women around their monthly menstruation or during pregnancy.
In addition, not taking proper care of your skin can increase acne: if you neglect to clean makeup, dirt, or grease off of your face, or if you scrub it too hard or pick at your pimples, it can make conditions worse.
Similarly, environmental conditions (such as humidity), sweating without cleansing afterward, and wearing tight clothing can perpetuate acne.
Although we often associate acne with adolescence, this is only because with puberty comes increased production of sebum by the sebaceous glands. In reality, acne affects people of all ages, and it can be very common for adult women.
There is also a genetic factor – if your parents had or have acne, it is more likely that you will be affected by it as well.
Acne is usually characterized by the severity of the case, typically classified as severe, moderate, and mild. An example of severe acne is when the sebum has formed into nodules or cysts deep beneath the skin.
Also called cystic acne or nodular acne, severe conditions of acne are usually recognized by very red, inflamed, and sometimes painful cysts. Severe acne should be treated by a dermatologist, as it can be rather extensive and uncomfortable, and is more prone to scarring.
Moderate acne is less widespread and includes comedones and pustules that may be red or inflamed.
Mild acne includes cases of occasional isolated comedones that rarely become inflamed.
First, you will have a private consultation with the doctor, where we’ll discuss your desired outcomes and any questions that you may have.
At the treatment session, your skin will be cleansed and a topical anesthetic ointment will be applied to the target area about an hour before the treatment begins.
The ointment is then removed and the laser does its work while applying cool air to quench the residual laser sting.
Additional prescriptions and services may be needed for extreme cases and we will help you out with those as well.
Even though every person is different and what works for one may not work for another, there is a way to successfully treat almost every person’s acne condition through finding appropriate means of treatment and prevention.
Effective medications are usually focused on the causes of acne. For example, antibiotics (including minocycline or Solodyn and doxycycline) target the bacteria that infect the skin while retinoids (examples include Tazorac, Differin, Epiduo, and tretinoin) can be applied topically to keep the pores and sebaceous glands from being blocked.
Amnesteem or Sotret (isotretinoin) and birth control pills or other hormone regulators help treat acne by reducing the body’s production of sebum.
In factoring which treatment will be most effective for you, your medical dermatologist will consider several factors:
- Previous treatments: Any previous treatments that have helped or have not helped will be changed or altered to fit your situation.
- Scarring: If your acne condition has already begun to leave scars, it is likely that your dermatologist will recommend aggressive treatment now to prevent future scarring.
- Severity of the condition: Severe acne will likely need severe treatment with medications like isotretinoin. Moderate acne may require using a medication or antibiotic as well as a topical retinoid.
For moderate to severe conditions of acne, individuals will most likely need to be given prescription strength acne treatment medications. Those lucky enough to have only mild cases may need only topical retinoids or non-prescription medications.
- Gender: Because of the frequent changes in hormone levels that women experience in their lives, they may be more prone to acne. To regulate hormones and help fight acne, a doctor may prescribe birth control pills.
No matter what form of treatment you are receiving for your acne, exercise patience.
It will take time for results to show because time is required to treat current conditions and to prevent new acne lesions from developing.
Only through giving your treatment plan a full 6 to 8 weeks to prove its effectiveness will you know whether or not it is working for your acne condition.
In some cases, the acne will appear to be getting worse during that time because the medication is helping the body rid itself of the excess oil and bacteria.
Allow it sufficient time to work before moving on to another treatment type; if you don’t, you may be abandoning the perfect treatment for your skin type because it didn’t work at the speed you desired.
The number of treatment sessions required for optimum results entirely depends on the condition being treated and your desired outcome.
Highly effective treatments require 3-6 sessions on average at about 3-5 week intervals, however, treatment of brown spots may only take 2-3 sessions.
While some results are immediate, others can take 3-6 months to appear due to collagen and elastin regeneration.
For long-lasting results, sun protection is key for at least three months after treatment. Avoid direct sun exposure, apply broad-spectrum 30+ SPF sunscreen, and wear protective clothing when outdoors. During your consultation you may also be given a suggested maintenance and skin care routine to help prolong your results.
When treatment proves effective and the acne disappears, it doesn’t mean that you should stop using everything that has worked for you. You will probably want to continue to use topical retinoids in order to maintain your clear skin. In addition, it will be beneficial to follow a few tips.
Be wise in selecting skin care products. Do not be abrasive with your skin. Mild cleansers once or twice a day are all you need; harsh cleansers may be too abrasive and make acne conditions worse. You’ll also want to look for cosmetics that are oil-free or non-comedogenic. Cleansers with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide are made to fight acne, making them a good choice for preventative acne treatment.
Similarly, treat your skin kindly. Do not pick at or squeeze pimples because this is more likely to increase the amount of bacteria and inflammation in the area due to the bacteria on your hands. Limit how often you touch your face so as not to spread germs or bacteria. In addition, wear appropriate moisturizers and protect your skin from the sun.
Sun exposure dries out the skin excessively, leading the sebaceous glands to overproduce sebum (resulting in the appearance of acne). In addition, it can cause serious skin damage. Limiting your exposure to the sun (including tanning booths) is especially important if the acne treatment medication you use is one that increases sensitivity to UV rays.