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Acne

Acne is a common skin condition that occurs when the pores of your skin become clogged, most often on the face, neck, back, and chest. No one knows exactly why this happens, but we do know that testosterone plays a part, as does heredity.

Once a pore becomes clogged, it traps skin oil (sebum produced by sebaceous gland) inside. Bacteria grows in this oil and can cause an inflammatory response in the skin. Acne lesions can be small and hardly noticeable, have a small white or black head, or can appear red with a white/yellow center. Sometimes a clogged pore will become so inflamed that it can lead to larger, more painful lesions called nodules or cysts, which can ultimately scar. Almost no one escapes some clogged pores and pimples, especially during adolescence–a fragile time when self-esteem and confidence is just emerging. Acne afflicts people of all ethnicities and is treated the same regardless.

Our skin is healthiest and clearest when it is in balance. The more irritation your skin experiences, the more likely it is to break out. Conversely, the less irritation your skin experiences, the better it is able to remain clear. Sources of irritation include anything which rubs, scratches, or comes into prolonged contact with your skin, as well as anything which sends your skin out of balance such as over-dryness, sunburns, shaving the face with irritating razors, and pore-clogging cosmetics. To best clear acne, try to keep your skin as untouched as possible. Acne is not caused by dirt, and washing your face, while it is fine to do up to twice per day, is going to do little to help with your acne.

Finally, popping pimples is not off limits. None of us likes to walk around with puss filled pimples. Done correctly, properly popping can actually help hasten healing. However, whatever you do, do not pick at your skin.

Cause
Acne is actually caused by a combination of several factors:

  1. Rising hormonal levels during adolescence lead to over production of sebum/oil by oil glands/sebaceousglands.
  2. The sebum ducts  that bring this oil to the surface become blocked with keratin (a protein that is part of the skin).
  3. When these oil glands are overactive and the canals are blocked, the bacteria that normally live on the skin and in the oil become trapped. They subsequently multiply, and cause inflammation and irritation.

Treatment of Acne

Since acne has many forms, your dermatologist designs an individual approach to care for successful control. Thus, the course of therapy will vary according to such factors as type of acne, it’s severity and extent, and the patient’s day-to-day activities.

Mild acne is treated with one or a combination of topical medications. Moderate and severe acne is usually treated by topical medicines with the addition of oral antibiotics. Since different combinations work better for some patients than others, you are usually evaluated every four to six weeks until the acne is well controlled.

In addition to this conventional therapy, your dermatologist may recommend one or more of these treatments to speed healing and clearing of your acne:

Acne Surgery: This procedure greatly speeds acne clearing and appearance by manually removing blackheads and whiteheads. This may be combined with microdermabrasion, which helps to remove dead skin on the face and open up smaller blocked pores.

Intralesional Corticosteroid Therapy: If one or several painful acne cysts develop, fast relief is available with this relatively painless procedure. Each cyst is given a single injection of a dilute cortisone solution, using a very tiny needle.

Accutane Therapy: Isotretinoin(Accutane), is used for the treatment of patients with severe acne not responsive to conventional treatments. The duration of treatment is usually five to six months.

Treatment for Acne Scarring

Chemical Peel: Superficial acne scarring, and irregular pigmentation of the skin are easily treated with this technique. Chemical agents are applied to the skin, which cause the outer layer to be removed. Different chemicals and concentrations are used, depending on patient’s skin type and degree of scarring.

Laser Resurfacing: More prominent scarring from acne is best treated by this technique. The top several layers of skin are removed with high energy light. This action evens out the skin to give it a smoother, more pleasing contour.

Punch Excision and/or Grafting: Some narrow pitted scars are too deep to be removed by dermabrasion. These can be removed with a surgical instrument called a punch. The resulting defect is closed, either primarily or with a tiny skin graft, with gratifying results. Sometimes this procedure is followed by chemical peel or laser resurfacing for patients with a mixed type of scarring.

Collagen Implantation: This natural protein is injected under the lesion to elevate it to the level of the skin.