What is Acne?
Acne is an inflammatory condition which may include comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), red pimples, and even large nodules. Acne commonly affects the face, but may also appear also on the shoulders, back, chest, arms, and buttocks.
Acne is commonly a skin condition of adolescence, but it can affect adults as well. The tendency toward acne often, but not always, runs in families. Treatments which help teens can often help adults as well.
What causes Acne?
Sebaceous glands which connect to hair follicles in the skin are at the root of the problem. These glands secrete an oily material called sebum, which normally softens and lubricateds the skin. The sebaceous glands become most active at puberty, leading to oily skin. Plugging of the hair follicles and pores with dead skin cells also occurs in acne. When there is no inflammation, this leads to closed comedones(whiteheads) or open comedones(blackheads). The black color is not due to dirt, but rather from chemical changes in trapped cells. Finally, bacteria called Propioibacterium acnes thrives secondary to increased sebum, overgrows, and attracts your body’s immune cells, leading to inflammation and red bumps or nodules.
Will the Acne go away?
In most patients, acne tends to subside in the late teens to early twenties. Some people continue to experience acne throughout adulthood. It is impossible to predict when acne will disappear. While the condition is active, it may alternately erupt and then improve. It is up to you and your doctor, working together, to help control it. Pinski Dermatology offers a variety of acne treatment options in the Chicago area.
What things make Acne worse?
Severe or prolonged stress may aggravate acne. That’s why acne may flare up before examinations, weddings, during new jobs, etc. In women, acne may flare shortly before menstruation because of the influence of hormonal factors. Foods like chocolate and soda pop have never been proved to aggravate acne. Still, some patients find that avoiding these and other foods will improve their complexions. If you find that certain foods like chocolate, fatty foods, or excessive amounts of sweets seem to aggravate your condition, it is best to avoid them. In general, the best diet for those with acne is a well-balanced one. While it may not always prevent future breakouts, seeking acne treatment in Chicago can help educate those suffering from acne on the appropriate skin care regimens to achieve healthier, brighten skin.
May I apply cosmetics?
Cosmetics containing oil should be avoided as this can lead to plugging of the skin’s pores. It is best to avoid heavy greases or gels in the hair especially if you have acne around the hairline. Look for cosmetics that are “oil-free.” There are many brands available today.
What should I avoid?
Rubbing and scrubbing of the face will eventually aggravate acne. Cleansing 2 – 3 times a day is adequate, but washing vigorously may cause more inflammation. Other sources of friction, such as leaning on or rubbing an area of the skin affected with acne, or the pressure from helmets, tight collars or backpacks may also have similarly harmful effects.
Squeezing of acne lesions should also be avoided as it may lead to more irritation, inflammation, and prolongation of redness.
What acne treatment solutions are available in Chicago?
At Pinski Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, we can prescribe a variety of different medications which can help treat and control acne in Chicago. Treatment will vary depending upon the severity of the acne.
1. Glycolic Acids (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) and Salicylic Acids (Beta Hydroxy Acids):
Contained in washes, toners, lotions, and peels, these acids help to unplug pores and regulate the skin cycling process. They may even help to fade the red spots that occur after acne breakouts.
There are a variety of antibiotics to choose from. They are available in pill and topical forms. The majority of antibiotics used for acne treatments in Chicago are rarely used for other illnesses. There is little risk in creating “antibiotic resistance” from the use of acne medications. Occasionally though, the bacteria which causes acne will become resistant to the antibiotic, and a different antibiotic can be prescribed. You can safely take antibiotic pills for several months, even years to control your acne under the guidance of your doctor.
3. Benzoyl Peroxides:
Benzoyl peroxide applications and washes help to fight acne causing bacteria which causes acne. The bacteria cannot develop to it. However, benzoyl peroxide can bleach your fabrics.
4. Retinoids (Retin-A, Differin, Tazorac, Ziana):
Retinoids work by opening up plugged pores. They make the skin cells less sticky, so patients may notice mild flaking of the skin when first used. They will take several weeks to unplug pores, as the skin takes 28 days to cycle.
5. Isotretinoin (Accutane):
Isotretinoin is the only medication that decreases oil production in the skin. It also helps to regulate the skin cycling process. As a result of decreased oil production, many patients experience dry skin and lips while on the medication. Taking Accutane requires close medical and laboratory monitoring, and it cannot be used during pregnancy. This form of acne treatment is typically used for patients in Chicago with severe acne, or acne which fails to respond to antibiotic pills.
6. Other Medications and Acne Treatments in Chicago:
There are many other medications that can help control acne. These include birth control pills, Spironolactone (which helps some women with acne), topical Azaleic acid, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and photodynamic therapy. Your doctor will work with you to find the right combination of medications and procedures to control your acne.