What is Acne?
Acne Vulgaris, also known as acne, is characterized by red bumps on the surface of the skin. It happens to people of all ages, but its most common amongst teenagers. Acne is notorious for appearing out of nowhere to ruin special days and personal image. It can even cause psychological trauma depending on the severity. However, acne can be defeated. Our dermatologists have battled everything from acne scars a severe form of acne. Acne is a disease and can be treated with highly effective prescriptions and professional medical advice. There are 6 types of acne:
Acne’s type of acne ranges from whiteheads and black heads (mild) to nodular and cystic acne (severe).
Whiteheads – Small, white bumps on the skin.
Blackheads – Small bumps on the skin that is black at the opening.
Papule – Bump on the skin that looks red and swollen. This most fits the classic image of a pimple.
Pustule – Bump on the skin that looks red, swollen, and has a yellow top due to pus.
Nodular – This is a bigger pimple deep in the skin. It’s hard, painful to the touch, and inflamed. The color could be normal or red.
Cystic – This is deep in the skin, inflamed, bigger, and painful like nodular acne, but it’s filled with pus so its softer.
There might be different types of acne, but they all start similarly. Hair follicles have sebaceous oil glands that secrete an oil called sebum, which lubricates and waterproofs the skin. When dead skin cells clog the exit of the hair follicle, the sebum builds up and hardens creating a plug made of dead skin and hardened sebum. The sebum oil secreted by hair follicles builds up to produce a bump so many of us are familiar with.
Whiteheads – The skin over the plug is intact and gives a white appearance over the bump.
Blackheads – The skin over the plug opens to expose the dead skin and sebum plug to air which causes a reaction to turn the plug black.
Papule – Acne-causing bacteria is commonly present in hair follicles, but it’s usually secreted out before it has time to multiply. Trapped acne-causing bacteria inside a clogged pore then multiplies and the immune system reacts to it by inflaming the surrounding area. This turns into a small, red bump.
Pustule – These are papules with pus in it, formed from dead white blood cells and bacteria.
Nodular – When papules or pustules are infected with bacteria, the infection could spread deeper into the skin if the follicle wall bursts and infect other pores to become red and swollen.
Cystic – This is caused in a similar way to nodular acne, but the immune system also responds by producing pus.
Ultimately, each treatment for acne specializes in certain acne-fighting techniques, so it’s important to choose the best treatment for your skin type and situation. Acne Treatment is complex, but they have a similar effect on acne. They generally remove dead skin, reduce sebum presence, kill acne-causing bacteria, reduce inflammation, and treat acne scars. Here are a variety of treatments and acne medications you should know about to try and achieve your perfect complexion.
While home remedies have taken on popularity, there are little to no studies confirming the effectiveness of such treatments. In some cases, it might even do more harm than good considering their minimal effectiveness versus the unknown side effects they could have on your body. It’s best to follow the medical advice of a dermatologist because they know what will or will not treat the disease. Here are some popular home remedies that you should be careful with:
• Tea Tree Oil
• Aloe Vera
Over the Counter
While some over the counter (OTC) medications are effective enough to be given as prescriptions, other OTC medications have limited effects on disease. They might help for mild to moderate cases, but they aren’t usually effective on severe ones. If used incorrectly and without guidance, they might even prove to be ineffective and produce unforeseen side effects. However, a dermatologist can tell you whether or not these can be effective for you. Here are some OTC medications that may or may not be included in a treatment plan given by one of our dermatologists:
Salicylic Acid – A cleanser with this used twice a day mainly used to exfoliate your skin to dissolve dead skin debris and dissolve plugs, so it works best against whiteheads and blackheads. These cleansers are also an anti-inflammatory which reduces redness and swelling. It reduces sebum oil secretion so it doesn’t contribute to the size of the bump and to the plug. Finally, it has antibacterial properties to reduce infection and spreading to other pores.
Azelaic Acid – This cream has similar effects to salicylic acid, but it requires a higher concentration to do the same job. People use it for its skin lightening properties in acne scars which inhibits the production of excess melanin. Skin lightening effects were noticeably better in combination with tretinoin.
Benzoyl Peroxide – This is similar effects to salicylic acid, but its most effective in killing acne-causing bacteria, so its most effective against moderate to severe acne.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids – This has similar effects to salicylic acid, but it has an additional effect of removing layers of dead skin to promote cell turnover. Cell turnover reduces the appearance of acne scars as new skin replaces the scarred tissue.
Sulfur – This effective against mild acne because it specializes in removing dead skin cells and removing excess sebum. It works best for mild acne and those with oily skin. Sulfur also has natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, but not strong enough to effectively combat moderate to severe acne.
Prescriptions, alongside professional medical advice, are the most effective form of treatment. Home remedies and over the counter treatments take plenty of time, energy, and money, yet are uncertain to work. Our experienced dermatologists take your unique skin, set of symptoms, and medical history into account to take the guessing game out of your road to recovery. Here are some prescriptions your dermatologist might include in your personalized treatment plan:
Isotretinoin - This is a highly effective medication that reduces sebum production in the skin. With little sebum being produced, a plug won’t form from hardened sebum. Acne-causing bacteria have no place to grow, and inflammation doesn’t happen. Although it is one of the most effective treatments for acne, it is also highly regulated for its side effects which include birth defects.
Antibiotics – Antibiotic kills acne-causing bacteria, but they can also be an anti-inflammatory which reduces redness and inflammation.
Combination of Oral Contraceptives – A combination containing the hormones estrogen and progestin will lower the amount of androgens circulating in the body. Androgens stimulate the production of more sebum, so reducing androgen presence reduces likelihood of acne.
Retinoid – It dissolves dead skin layers that could plug pores while bringing new skin layers upward for a smoother look. In that regard, its similar to alpha hydroxy acids, but retinoids also repairs damaged skin and rebuilds collagen which makes it a more potent option for treating acne scars. It commonly causes peeling and redness, but a gentle face cleansing and non-comedogenic moisturizer can combat these side effects.
Post Treatment Prevention
After being seen by one of our SkyMD dermatologists, you’ve been equipped with the treatment plan and prescription(s) to treat your discomfort. However disease can be persistent, so you have to be too. A skin care routine and a set of disease-preventing habits recommended by our dermatologists are essential for long term prevention. Here are some popular prevention strategies that could supplement your personalized treatment plan:
• Change pillow cases often. Dirty pillows could have bacteria that could grow in pimples.
• Avoid touching your face. Brushing dead skin over a pore could clog pores.
• Use a face cleanser in your skin care routine. It dissolves the debris that makes plugs, reduces inflammation, kills acne-bacteria, and reduces sebum secretion that contributes to size and plugs.
• Don’t pick at it, and when cleansing, clean gently. Rough manipulation of existing acne could rupture follicle walls and cause.