What is Acne?

Acne vulgaris is the term used to describe pimples, pustules and complexion problems that typically affect young people.  Acne is caused by a cascade of several factors starting with the onset of puberty.   Hormones stimulate oil glands resulting in an increase in the production of an oily, white substance called sebum.  This excess amount of sebum is unable to escape the hair follicles, leading to plugging of oil glands and the development of blackheads and whiteheads.  If the oil gland ruptures, sebum is released into the surrounding skin causing redness and irritation, commonly known as a pimple.  In addition, hair follicle bacteria consume the extra sebum resulting in bacterial overgrowth and significant inflammation.  All successful acne treatments must address these factors in order to achieve significant results.  Acne has a genetic component, but most people will experience some form of acne at some point in their lives.

Acne and Age

Acne is most common in teenagers, starting shortly before or at the time of puberty.  The condition is typically worst during the teen years and tends to slowly improve with age.  However, patients are at increased risk of developing permanent acne scarring during their teen years.  The condition may improve or worsen without any apparent explanation.   A small percentage of patients will not develop acne until their 20’s or 30’s.  This is known as adult on-set acne.  Acne tends to worsen around the time of a woman’s menstrual cycle.  Men usually have worst acne than women.

Acne and Diet

Acne is not caused by food.  There is no evidence to indicate that any food or drink has a direct impact on the development of acne.  However, rarely, in certain individuals, foods such as chocolate, soda or low-fat milk may worsen the condition.  If these products have been proven to be acne triggers, they should be avoided.

Acne and Hygiene

Daily cleansing of the face is an important part of any affective treatment protocol.  A gentle, soap-less cleanser and plain water should be used to simply remove the excess dirt and oil from the skin’s surface.  You should use your fingertips to lather on and rinse off the cleanser.  Contrary to popular belief, dirt does not cause acne.  Scrubbing or washing too frequently should be avoided to so as not to cause irritation. Toners, astringents and abrasive cleansers should not be used since they tend to worse the acne situation.  Avoid picking or squeezing your pimples in order to minimize the possibility of scarring.

Acne and Stress

Anxiety and stress can certainly worsen acne.  Many patients will experience a flare of their disease during high stress scenarios such as before an exam or planning a wedding.  The flare is usually mild and will subside as the stress level decreases.

Acne Treatment

There are myriad of excellent treatments for acne.  Any successful treatment plan should address all the factors associated with the development of acne.   We at Porter Premiere Dermatology will design an individualized treatment protocol to address a person’s specific needs.  Topical antibiotics, topical retinoids, oral antibiotics and other related topical medicines are commonly used products.  We also use Accutane, the most effective treatment on the market, for the most severe cases.  Apogee Elite Laser treatments and Blue-light therapy are other effective, alternatives that we offer in our clinic.  We look forward to sharing our expertise with you and helping you to achieve clearer skin.