Acne (the medical term for common acne is Acne Vulgaris), is a common skin condition that affects people throughout their lifecycle to varying degrees. Acne is abnormal regulation of cells inside the tiny hair follicles, which predominantly manifest on the face but also can occur in areas such as the neck, chest, and back. While acne is most often associated with the teen years, statistics indicate it also affects over 20% of all adults.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), cites four major factors responsible for causing acne: an overabundance of oil; clogged pores; bacteria; and inflammation. Contrary to common belief, acne is not caused by foods, or by dirt. Age, gender, hormonal changes, stress, cosmetics, environment, certain medications, heredity and other factors play a part in triggering acne. Depending on distance to the surface of the skin, acne can take many different forms, including:
- Open comedones (blackheads) and Closed comedones (whiteheads)
- Papules (red bumps)
- Pustules (pus bumps)
- Cysts (painful deep nodules)
Mild non-inflammatory acne includes whiteheads and blackheads. Moderate and severe inflammatory acne consist of papules, inflamed pimples near the skin’s surface and when deeper, they are called pustules. The acne cycle starts with extra oil blocking the pores of follicles, leading to a plugged follicle. When oil and dead skin cells get trapped in the hair follicles, a type of bacteria that normally lives in the follicles multiplies, producing material which causes redness, irritation and inflammation. This in turn attracts the immune cells. Eventually this build-up can lead to a ruptured hair follicle and pus can form either above or below the skin’s surface. Cysts and nodules are the most severe type of acne. Where new skin cells cover the damaged areas, scarring, pitting or dark spots can occur.
Acne treatments provided by Johns Creek Dermatology address each phase of the acne cycle. Once acne has been diagnosed, we will design a treatment plan unique to you. Engaging in the treatment of acne is important for many reasons. Not only will it improve your physical appearance and help to prevent scarring, managing your acne also improves self-esteem and mental health. There are two general types of acne treatment.
1. Topical Treatment: The most common are topical treatments which are applied to the skin. Some work to kill the bacteria, others are formulated to reduce oil. The majority contain either a retinoid, prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide, an antibiotic, and/or salicylic acid. Your dermatologist at Johns Creek Dermatology will determine which topical treatment you need.
2. Ingested Treatments: This approach typically includes medication to address moderate and severe acne. Your dermatologist at Johns Creek Dermatology may prescribe:
- Antibiotics (helps to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation).
- Birth control pills and other medicine that works on hormones (can be helpful for women).
- Isotretinoin (the only treatment that works on all causes of acne).
The prescription medication and treatments performed at Johns Creek Dermatology have been proven to yield better results than over the counter medicines and topical products. It must be kept in mind that the process takes time to ensure success in clearing up your skin and exposing the new you. Prescription acne medications work well, particularly in conjunction with a cleansing routine, but it may take between 2-4 weeks for really noticeable results to materialize, depending on your personalized treatment plan.