Acne – what are your options for acne clearance?

Acne is papular or pustular eruption that affects the face, chest and back.  Acne can occur at any age, however.  It’s more common in teens and often persists well into adulthood.  Research indicates 15-20% of affected people will develop scarring from severe cases.

What happens to the skin during an infection?

The follicles become plugged with sebum production, Propionibacterium acnes and inflammation.  There are multiple variants of acne: Acne excoriee (caused by patients due to manipulation – causing scarring and erosion of skin).  Neonatal acne happens at birth, infantile acne, and Steroid acne – a comedonal and pustular acne that presents on the chest 2-5 weeks after taking a steroid.

Does diet affect acne?

The role of diet remains uncertain.  However, consumption of diary and simple sugars has long been associated with causation.

Is acne hereditary?

There’s research to support acne runs in the family.  Typically acne presents at a young age if someone in the family had acne as a child.  If both parents have acne, there’s a greater than 70% chance their child will develop acne.  Also, hyperandrogen states such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia or polycystic ovarian syndrome are known signs to cause acne.

How do I determine if the eruptions are acne?

Acne lesions typically divide into non-inflammatory or inflammatory.  Inflammatory lesions are characterized by papules, pustules, and nodules (cysts).  Non-inflammatory lesions consist of open blackheads (comedones) and whiteheads (closed comedones).

How do I treat acne?

If it all possible, medication should be used sparingly.  Also consider, topical applications typically take 2 or more months to show efficacy.  In addition, most treatments take continued use to “control” the condition.  Remember, it’s not a cure.  It’s important to know, scarring from acne warrants a systemic approach and you should consult your physician or dermatologist beforehand to determine the best possible treatment regimen.  Strong medications like Isotretinoin (Claravis, Ammnesteem, Sotret) can be considered if you show no improvements.  Again, it’s important to consult your physician.

Should I scrub my face and wash the acne away?

Your skin should be gently cleansed with mild soap and warm water.  We recommend you do NOT scrub your skin.  Apply topical agents after the skin has dried.  All medications should be applied in a gentle manner to acne prone sites.

Which products are best for my skin?

Solutions and gels are better for oily skin, while creams and lotions are better for dry skin.  Hair conditioners and oils should be avoided.  We recommend all cosmetic products be oil free and water based.  Remember DO NOT pick or pop acne lesions!

What products should I use for Blackheads and Whiteheads?

We recommend using products that gently exfoliate the epidermis (top layer of skin) and contain antibacterial properties (e.g. benzoyl peroxide).  If used in combination with products that correct follicular plugging (e.g. tretinoin, tazarotene, adapalene).  It’s important to rotate the application, one at night and the other in the morning.  Over-the-counter medications like Retin-A are best for oily skin and range in strength 2.5 to 10%.

Additionally, facial peels (glycolici acid, salicylic acid) are recommended to unblock pores.  Reminder, Tretinoin is has photosensitive side effects, consult your physician for what application best suits your condition.

Here at Maine Laser Clinic have seen fantastic results treating acne vulgaris with laser technology. Like any procedure, it’s always best to consult your physician before deciding on what’s best for your overall health.

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Dr. Amato Polselli