About the Treatment
Acne is a bane of just about every teenager, but it can last into the adult years, as well. Common acne, clinically known as acne vulgaris, can really impact the self-confidence of teens and leave scarring behind if left untreated the dermatology providers at Signature Plastic Surgery and Dermatology have various treatments for acne at Signature Plastic Surgery.
What is acne?
Acne basically is a function of the sebaceous glands at the base of the hair follicles. The sebaceous glands produce oil to keep the skin and hair lubricated and moist. Acne forms when the hair follicles clog, trapping the oil beneath the skin. Acne appears as occluded pores (blackheads or whiteheads), red bumps (pimples), pustules, or cysts.
Who gets acne?
Acne is mainly a staple of adolescence, due to those raging hormones. Still, about 20 percent of acne occurs in adults. Acne commonly starts during puberty between the ages of 10 and 13, and it lasts from five to 10 years. Teenage boys tend to have more severe cases of acne. In adults, women are more likely than men to have mild to moderate forms of acne into their 30s and sometimes beyond.
Is acne common?
Acne is the most common skin disorder of teenagers. It affects around 85 percent of American teens at some point between the ages of 13 and 20. That equates to an estimated 40 to 50 million Americans.
Where does acne commonly form?
Acne is most prevalent on the face, back, neck, shoulders, and chest.
What causes acne?
The causes of acne aren’t fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of factors. The rise in the male sex hormone androgen in teenagers of both sexes is thought to be the primary cause. When androgen levels rise during puberty, the sebaceous glands enlarge and produce more oil. This overproduction can lead to the glands becoming clogged. When this happens, the p. acnes bacteria that are common in the hair follicles begin to multiply. This causes inflammation, which leads to a breakout. Different people are more sensitive than others to this inflammation. Sebum levels that might cause a pimple or two in one person can lead to a full outbreak in someone else.
Genetics also play a role. Some people are simply more prone to the condition. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can trigger acne outbreaks, even if you got off easy as a teenager. Certain cosmetics and medications cause breakouts for some people. Friction and heat from sports helmets can cause what is known as acne mechanica.
There are many myths surrounding acne. It was long thought that diet contributed to acne, so eating foods such as potato chips or chocolate was to be avoided. Research has not shown any connection between food and acne, however.
Hygiene is also not a root cause. Dirty skin and acne are not related. It was long thought that aggressive scrubbing of the skin would open pores and improve acne. Actually, the opposite is true. Scrubbing and using harsh treatments irritates the skin and can make acne worse.
Different Type of Acne
Acne vulgaris is the medical term for common acne, with the presence of blackheads, whiteheads, and other types of pimples on the skin. Often the type of breakout is how acne is categorized.
- Whiteheads — A comedo is a basic acne lesion, a hair follicle that has become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. If the comedone is closed at the surface skin, it forms a whitehead.
- Blackheads — These are comedones that are open at the surface of the skin. They are filled with excess oil and dead skin cells. People think it is dirt that turns these lesions black, but it isn’t. It is simply the irregular reflection of light coming from the clogged follicles.
- Papules — If the comedones become inflamed they form small red or pink bumps on the skin. These are papules, and they may be sensitive to the touch.
- Pustules — These resemble whiteheads with a red ring around the bump.
- Nodules — Nodules develop deep within the skin and develop into a large, inflamed bump that feels firm to the touch. They are often painful.
- Cysts — Cystic acne is the most severe form, and it leads to permanent acne scarring. Cysts are large, pus-filled lesions that resemble boils.
Acne treatments need to generally need to address the three main factors causing the breakouts: excess oil production, bacteria growth, and clogged hair follicles/pores. Our dermatologists employs a variety of options for treating our patients’ acne. We employ products that contain active ingredients such as Retin-A and Resorcinol. We also put patients on skincare regimens with various products. If these options don’t work we may work with oral antibiotics or topical antimicrobials such as adapalene, tazarotene, and tretinoin. Lasers and photodynamic therapy can work to kill the bacteria in the hair follicles. Light chemical peels can also be effective.
Every patient’s acne is unique, and dermatology providers at Signature Plastic Surgery and Dermatology treats each case that way. It may take a few different approaches to finally get to the bottom of your teenager’s acne, but that’s what we do at Signature Plastic Surgery.
When is it time to see a dermatologist for acne treatment?
Acne is very common in teens. The question of if or when to see a dermatologist can vary from person to person or family to family. But there are some times when you should bring in an expert, such as a dermatologist provider at Signature Plastic Surgery.
You or your child’s acne should be treated if it is:
- Making the person unhappy, overly self-conscious, or uncomfortable
- Producing scars
- Causing dark patches to appear on the skin
- Severe with deep nodules and persistent pimples
- Not responding to over-the-counter treatments, and prescription medicine could be necessary