Acne affects around 85% of those between the ages of 12 and 24 and causes pimples, blackheads, cysts and nodules. During puberty, many teenagers experience a mild form of acne known as comedonal acne that usually consists of a few small pimples confined to the face and chest. Occasionally, a more severe form called cystic acne occurs and causes large, inflamed cysts that result in pain, infection and scarring. Acne can occur at any time of a person’s life, and more women are now suffering from the disease well into their 30s and 40s. Many people that struggle with acne also experience low self-esteem, depression and anxiety, so effective medical treatment is essential to help those afflicted with the disease.
What Causes Acne?
Most cases of acne are caused by fluctuating hormones that lead to an overproduction of oil (sebum) that causes greasy skin and clogged pores. Dead skin cells and dirt can cause blackheads to form at the top of pores. Sebum is produced beneath the blockage leading to the white pimples that are a common characteristic of acne. Blocked sebum is an ideal breeding ground for a bacterium known as propionibacterium acnes to thrive, and this leads to the larger cysts and nodules that occur with more serious forms of acne.
Although the vast majority of acne cases are due to hormones, there are some other factors that can cause acne. Polycystic ovary system often leads to mild cases of acne due to an overproduction of the male hormone. Menstruation, stress, smoking and a diet high in refined sugars and carbohydrates can also contribute to acne.
How is Acne Treated?
Mild cases of acne are usually treated with topical creams and retinoids such as Differin, Renova or Retin-A. A course of oral antibiotics such as tetracycline or erythromycin may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation and infection in more serious forms of acne. The contraceptive pill can be an effective treatment for hormonal forms of acne in women as it stabilizes monthly hormone fluctuations. However, the pill requires around six months to take effect and is not suitable for all women. For stubborn acne that does not respond to treatment or severe cystic acne, your dermatologist may recommend one of two forms of light therapy:
- Photodynamic therapy – photodynamic therapy involves spreading a medicated liquid over affected areas and then activating the medicine using a laser.
- Isolaz – isolaz cleanses the pores using a vacuum and then kills bacteria on the skin using a broadband light.
Some Myths About Acne
Many people mistakenly believe that acne is caused by poor personal hygiene, but this is completely untrue. In fact, cleansing the skin too often can actually make acne worse as it stimulates the oil glands to produce even more oil to counteract the drying effects of most cleansers. Although a poor diet can certainly make acne worse, it is never the sole cause of the disease. Genetics are believed to play a part in the likelihood of a person developing acne, and this is especially true in the case of cystic acne.
As well as a range of specialized dermatological treatments, a few changes in lifestyle can help to brighten the skin and reduce the appearance of acne. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables and only a minimal amount of sugar can vastly improve the skin’s appearance, and clients are advised to drink plenty of water to hydrate the skin and flush the body of toxins. If you are suffering from stubborn acne that does not respond to conventional treatment, call us now to arrange a free consultation with a dermatologist to devise a personalized skincare plan for you.