What is Acne?

Of course, we’re all familiar with acne.  You’ve either suffered with it yourself, or if you happen to be one of the lucky few to sidestep it, you know plenty of others who have been less fortunate.  These bumps, known as pimples or zits, can differ for everyone.  Some people have just a couple on occasion, while others find acne on the face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders on a near constant basis. 

What Causes Acne?

The sebaceous glands secrete an oil called sebum within the pores to help keep skin moisturized and protected.  However, when this oil is unable to drain properly, it builds up and can cause swelling within the hair follicles.  These swollen follicles are otherwise known as comedones.  Both whiteheads and blackheads are forms of comedones.  Whiteheads occur when the trapped sebum remains below the skin.  In cases where the sebum reaches the surface of the skin and is exposed to air, blackheads occur.  Red and inflamed acne happens when bacteria from the surface of the skin infects the sebum.

Some individuals are more prone to acne to others, and while we may not understand all of the contributing factors, genetics and age certainly play a role.  Acne can occur at any age.  However, the hormone fluctuations throughout adolescence make the teenage years the worst.  Additionally, if your parents had acne, you are more likely to have it as well.

How is Acne Treated?

When treated by a board certified Baton Rouge dermatologist, your acne may be able to improve drastically.  While there isn’t a single treatment that will work for all patients, an appropriate combination of medications can offer significant results.  Commonly used treatment options include:

·        Topical Retinoids

·        Antibiotics

·        Isotretinoin

·        Hormonal Agents (birth control)

At home, there are steps that you can also take to help ease acne.  These include:

·        Gentle Skin Cleansing – Use a mild cleanser twice per day, and avoid harsher options and astringents.

·        Don’t Pick – It’s certainly tempting to pop a pimple, but this can actually worsen the condition, causing inflammation or infection.

·        Limit Sun Exposure – Tanning does not eliminate acne.  It may mask it temporarily, but the damage done to skin by excessive UV exposure is not worth the short-lived improvement.  Additionally, many medications used to improve acne also increase the skin’s sensitivity to sun, making burns more likely.

·        Choose the Right Products – Patients with acne do not have to eliminate cosmetics, but you should choose them with care.  Look for products that use words and phrases like “oil-free,” “water-based,” and “non-comedogenic” on the label.  Additionally, products that use acne-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide may also help.

Learn More about Acne Treatment

If you are troubled by acne and have found that over-the-counter products and proper skin care are not enough, it may be time to see a dermatologist.  In our office, we can determine an appropriate treatment regimen, based on your type of acne, severity, and even gender to give optimal results.  Simply contact our Baton Rouge dermatology office or Lafayette dermatology office to schedule your own consultation and treatment.