Acne is the most common skin disorder in the United States affecting over 40 million people. The term “acne” is used to describe clogged pores, which lead to whiteheads and blackheads, pimples, and deeper nodules and cysts. These blemishes can occur on the face, neck, back, chest, shoulders, and the upper arms.
While generally thought to afflict teenagers, acne can persist into adulthood and can affect a wide range of age groups. While acne can clear on its own after several years, even if left untreated, it can lead to scarring that last a lifetime. It is best to get acne treated to prevent serious and potentially disfiguring scarring. Even in cases where the acne is not severe, it can lead to permanent scarring.
What Causes Acne?
During puberty, hormone levels rise causing the sebaceous, or oil, glands to get larger. These glands are connected to the hair follicles. When the glands secrete the sebum, an oil-like substance, it leaves through the hair follicle and is deposited on the skin. The sebum stimulates the follicle lining causing it to shed cells more rapidly, which causes them to stick together and form a plug in the follicle. This plug of cells and oil allows bacteria in the follicle to grow. When the bacteria and skin cells are released into the skin they cause redness, swelling, and pus, in other words, a pimple.
While the exact reasons that one person may experience severe acne and others may not is not known, heredity, hormones, and stress all play a role. There is no scientific evidence that shows the foods we consume cause acne, however, some people find that certain foods may make their acne worse. In these instances, it is best to avoid the food you find to cause your acne to worsen.
How Do We Treat Acne?
Our goal in acne treatment is to minimize blemishes and prevent scarring. We have many options and treatments available to help achieve this.
The goal of acne treatment is preventing new blemishes from forming. Existing acne must heal on its own and it takes time to see improvements. Multiple treatment options may need to be tried before real improvement is seen. There are many types of treatment out there and our dermatologist are experts are tailoring acne treatments to your type of acne. To offer our patients the best care, our doctors and nursing staff are qualified and registered for the national iPLEDGE system for use with Accutane.
Types of acne treatment include:
- Over the counter cleansers, lotions, and creams
- Prescription creams and lotions
- Antibiotics, oral and topical
- Certain types of birth control pills
- Accutane, for severe cases that are not helped by other methods
It is important to note, there is no permanent cure for acne, however with proper treatment and diligent skin care it is controllable and scarring is preventable.
For more information on acne, click here.
Rosacea, sometimes referred to as “adult acne,” is a common skin condition that may cause redness, pustules, or swelling of the face. Early signs of rosacea are a tendency towards easy blushing and flushing. It can progress to be persistent redness around the center of the face, involving cheeks, forehead, chin, and/or nose.Over time small blood vessels and pimples may begin to appear, however there are no blackheads like with acne.
Many people with rosacea have sytmpoms that involve the eyes. This is referred to as ocular rosacea. Ocular rosacea can be characterized as itching, burning, or grittiness of the eyes. Left untreated more complications may develop. Rhinophyma is a complication characterized by thick bumps that appear on the nose cheeks. This can cause the nose to appear bulbous and red and the cheeks to be puffy.
While there is no cure for rosacea, there are steps you can take to help alleviate symptoms and slow the progression. Avoiding things that may aggravate rosacea, such as hot drink, spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol may help to reduce flushing. Using broad spectrum sunscreens, SPF 30 and higher, when outdoors and avoiding extreme temperatures may keep symptoms from being exacerbated. Gentle skin care techniques and avoidance of skin products containing alcohol are good ways to prevent triggering of the condition.
Treatments may include prescription washes, topical creams and gels, oral and topical antibiotics, laser surgery, or a variety of these. The most important thing is early diagnosis and treatment to slow or stop the progression of the disease.
For more information on rosacea, visit www.rosacea.org.