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Understanding and Treating Acne

More than likely you are already familiar with the problems Acne can cause.


Today we are talking about a topic that affects millions - acne. Acne, or more specifically acne vulgaris is a skin disorder involving the hair follicle and sebaceous or sweat gland. The development of acne involves several factors, such hormone stimulation of sebaceous glands, an imbalance of bacteria on the skin and pores, your immune system responses, genetics, and even diet. In this post I am going to dive into what causes acne, the potential for scarring, and I’ll also share five effective treatments. So, let's get started!


So, what are the main causes of acne. Acne occurs when your hair follicles become plugged and inflamed. This can lead to whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples. The main problem is that the hair follicle gets clogged and inflamed. This can be from too much keratin production, too much sebum production, bacteria that are naturally present on the face, or a combination of these. Factors contributing to acne include hormonal changes (which is why it is often present in teenagers), diet, stress, and certain medications. However, it is not just a teenage issue; adults can experience it too.


Here is a cross section illustration of the skin showing the hair follicle and sebaceous gland. This gland produces Sebum. Sebum is a mixture of fats and oils that help moisturize the skin.





One of the concerns with acne is the potential for scarring. Scars occur when acne lesions heal like any other skin damage. The amount or severity of scarring is usually related to the amount of acne inflammation. Picking or squeezing pimples can also increase this risk. But don't worry, there are many treatments for acne to help prevent this unwanted scarring. Let’s discuss a few.


Now, let's move on to the part you've been waiting for. Here are five effective treatments for acne. These are treatments we've successfully used right here at our office.


1. Topical Treatments: First line treatment is topical therapy. There are several of these and they include retinoids like retinol, benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, and topical antibiotics. Good skin care is at the heart of this and everyone, regardless of whether they have acne or not should apply these foundational practices to daily skin care routine that includes using sunblock, a good quality hypoallergenic cleanser, and a quality moisturizer. After this you can look at topical therapies for acne. These treatments address one or more of the underlying causes and can help clear clogged pores and reduce inflammation. They're a great first step in any acne treatment plan but like any medical treatment should be tailored to the individual person and severity of the acne for best results. Some examples of topical retinoids are tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene. Adapalene can be obtained over the counter and one brand name for this is Adapalene. Benzoyl peroxide and azelaic acid are also over the counter and you can easily find good instructions online about how to use them and get the best results.

2. Oral Medications: Next, oral medications, including antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and isotretinoin, can be effective. These are typically used for more severe cases. These treatments can reduce bacteria and oil production, but you have to monitor for side effects. There can be a lot more problems with oral medications than topical therapies. If you want an example of this then just do an internet search for Accutane side effects and you will see what I mean. Accutane is the brand name for Isotretinoin.

3. Light Therapy: Light therapy is another option. It uses specific wavelengths of light to target the skin and reduce inflammation. It's a non-invasive method that's gaining popularity but we still need more research in this area to determine if it is really worth it.

4. Procedures and Peels: Chemical peels involve applying a chemical solution to the skin, which helps exfoliate the top layers, reducing the appearance of acne scars and promoting healthier skin growth. You should be careful with exfoliation as too much inflammation can increase the risk of scarring. There are also microneedling devices such as Morpheus8 that can help with active acne but are even better at improving acne scarring.

5. Lifestyle Changes: Lastly, never underestimate the power of lifestyle changes. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and proper skincare can all contribute to clearer skin. Many people will find that certain foods make their acne much worse. Several studies have shown that Dairy and diets with High Carbohydrate content produce more acne.


Remember, the key to managing acne is patience and consistency. If one treatment doesn't work, don't lose hope. We're here to help you find the right solution. If you're struggling with acne, consider booking an appointment at Medical Specialty Clinic. Together, we can create a personalized treatment plan that works for you.



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