If you have acne, you probably struggle with feelings of frustration over your break-outs, embarrassment over the condition of your inflamed skin, and fear that your face will become permanently scarred. What if you could experience relief and hope for clearer and undamaged skin? It’s time for you to explore some treatment options that offer a better future for your face and confidence in your daily interactions and activities.
Acne is essentially a problem with blocked pores or hair follicles. When your skin is healthy, dead skin cells come to the surface of your pores, which then shed the skin cells. However, when you body produces oil (sebum) to moisturize the skin, it can cause the dead skin cells to stick together and get stuck in the pore. Bacteria that lives on our skin can get inside the pore as well, causing the pore to become inflamed. If the infection goes deep into your skin, painful cysts or nodules can form. Typically acne appears on the face, upper back, chest, and shoulders because these parts of your body have the most oil glands. Acne is most common among teenagers who have fluctuating hormones, but acne can affect people of all ages. It can last years for women as they undergo hormonal changes with their monthly menstruation, causing recurrences of the breakouts.
You may have heard the myth that acne simply needs to run its course. The truth is that failing to treat your acne increases the chances of your skin scarring from the chronic inflammation. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that acne is the most common skin problem in the United States with 40 to 50 millions people suffering from it. With this many people struggling with acne, dermatologists have been hard at work developing treatments that safely and effectively clear the skin from pimples, cysts, and nodules common with acne.
There are some things you can do at home to control your acne and reduce acne scars, especially if you have mild acne. Your goal is to decrease the excess oil on your skin and to keep your skin clean from bacteria. You should wash your skin daily with a gentle cleanser that is free from scents and abrasive agents, as these can further irritate your skin. It is even more important to gently wash your face after sweating, especially if you are wearing a hat or helmet. When you wash your skin, don’t scrub or use hot water. Keep your hair away from your face so that the oils in your hair don’t get onto your face. Changing your pillowcase frequently can also minimize the exposure your skin has to oils and dead skin cells. Keep your hands away from your face and on’t pick at or squeeze your pimples -- this can result in a longer healing time and increase the risk of scarring. The American Academy of Dermatology also recommends that you stay out of the sun and tanning beds -- particularly if you are taking an acne medication that makes your skin sensitive to UV light.
If you have anything more severe than mild acne, you will likely need care from a dermatologist. The most common treatment your dermatologist will prescribe are topical and oral medications. Topical medications will usually contain retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and azelaic acid, or Dapsone. Retinoids and retinoid-like drugs work to prevent the clogging of hair follicles. Retinoids come from Vitamin A and are in creams that need to be applied several times a day, and then eventually just once a day. Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid that has antibacterial qualities. When applied to the skin, it can combat the bacteria that could get into your pores. Both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid help your body produce less oil and are often found in over the counter medications.
Dapsone is a gel that is used most commonly for females who have acne. It helps control inflammation of the skin.
Often a dermatologist will prescribe an oral antibiotic such as minocycline or doxycycline to help your body fight the bacteria in your skin. The Mayo Health Clinic states that often a doctor will have you take an antibiotic while also using a retinoid and a benzoyl peroxide to combat the possibility of antibiotic resistance. If you are a female struggling with acne, taking birth control can help manage the hormonal fluctuations that trigger acne break-outs. Taking anti-androgen agents that block the production of the androgen hormone can also help females with acne. If you have severe acne that isn’t improving with other treatments, your doctor may prescribe a powerful retinoid drug called Isotretinoin that helps minimize the size of your oil glands and control skin cell turnover. While highly effective, it can also have serious side effects. If you take Isotretinoin, you will be closely monitored for problematic side effects.
Your doctor may recommend some therapies to use in conjunction with medication. Laser and photodynamic therapies helps to treat acne by light exposure that kills the bacteria on your skin. You can also get a chemical face peel, which removes the top layer of skin, also eliminating blackheads and pimples. You will need multiple treatments, as results from a chemical peel are temporary. If you have cystic acne, your dermatologist can perform drainage and extraction procedures. In this procedure, your doctor will drain the cysts of dead skin cells, bacteria, pus, and fluids and often also inject the treated pores with steroids or antibiotics to increase the rate of healing and to reduce pain from inflammation.
Contact Vanguard Dermatology today to set up an appointment with an experienced dermatologist who can create a treatment plan tailored to the type of acne you are suffering from. Located in the greater New York City Area, Vanguard Dermatology offers multiple procedures and treatments that can reduce or eliminate your acne.