Acne is caused by the clogging of pores (whiteheads and blackheads) which can also cause red bumps, pimples and deeper lumps (nodules and cysts) to form. It is most frequently seen on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and even the upper arms. It usually affects teenagers due to increased hormones and overactive oil glands, but adults can also be affected. Adult acne is common in middle-aged women. Acne can be disfiguring and have a profound emotional impact on patients. When severe acne forms, permanent scarring may occur. Early acne treatment to improve complexion and prevent acne scarring is vital! There are many effective treatments for acne. Mild to moderate cases can be treated with prescription or over-the-counter topical medications, oral medication, or a combination of both. More severe cases of acne may require a dermatologist to prescribe stronger medications such as hormone blockers or isotretinoin (accutane), an oral medication that reduces the size of the oil glands and prevents acne scarring and new acne from forming.
Important Acne Tips:
Cleansing–Acne is caused by clogged pores, not dirty skin. Typically the dried oil and sticky, shed skin cells in the opening of the pore are the cause. For most of us, twice daily washing of your face with a gentle cleanser to remove dirt, excessive oil, and cosmetics is recommended. Some patients may need cleansers that contain benzoyl peroxide, salicyclic acid, or other products. Washing your skin too often, though, may actually worsen acne due to excessive irritation.
Diet–Acne is generally not caused by the foods you eat. Dermatologists have varied opinions on the importance of diet in the management of acne, but it is generally felt that a healthy diet makes one feel better, lowers stress, and improves acne.
Cosmetics–It is important to choose a foundation or moisturizer that is “non-comedogenic” (does not cause whiteheads or blackheads) and remove it every night with a gentle cleanser. Do not sleep with your makeup on!!
The main focus is to treat existing acne lesions and prevent new acne pimples, breakouts, and blemishes from forming. Acne may take several weeks or longer to improve, as existing blemishes slowly heal over time. If your acne has not improved after two months of treatment, you may need to change your treatment regimen. Early treatment by a dermatologist experienced in acne treatment is important to maximize your results.
- Mild cases–topical preparations such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, topical antibiotics, and topical retinoids (adapalene, tretinoin). Extraction of whiteheads/blackheads and small cysts called milia can also be performed.
- Moderate cases–topical creams and gels PLUS use of oral antibiotics and/or oral contraceptives and/or hormone blocking agents
- Severe cases–often require a dermatologist to prescribe isotretinoin (accutane) to prevent acne scarring. Isotretinoin is a strong acne medication that improves excessively oily skin, treats cystic acne, and helps prevent scarring from acne.
Visit our patient education library to learn more about acne treatment
To schedule an appointment with one of our dermatologists, call us at 704-341-0090 (Ballantyne) or 704-821-0615 (Indian Trail)