What is Acne?

What is Acne?

Acne is a disorder of the skin caused by inflammation of the skin glands and hair follicles. The cause of acne is not completely understood, yet some factors, which may contribute, include heredity, hormones & bacteria.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Defined by severity, there are two types:

• Mild Acne – (“whiteheads” and “blackheads”) is caused by a plug of dead skin cells and oil in the canal that contains the hair, under the surface of the skin. Because the plugs are underneath the skin surface, scrubbing will not get rid of them. In fact, rubbing the skin or using harsh or abrasive soaps can irritate the skin and make the acne worse. Mild acne does not usually leave permanent marks on the skin.

•  Moderate to Severe Acne – causes large bumps (nodules) and cysts, which may lead to permanent scarring of the skin. With early and consistent treatment, however, such scarring can often be prevented.

What is the treatment for acne?

The treatment varies and depends on the type of acne. Appropriate and regular skin care is the 1st step.

•  Using the tips of your fingers (no washcloth or sponge, etc.) wash your face and other affected areas with a mild soap such as Purpose, Basis or Neutrogena, or with alcohol-free cleansing cream. Pat dry (DO NOT RUB) with a soft towel.

•  Avoid moisturizers and cosmetics. If they must be used, choose an oil-free or water based “non-comedogenic” and “non-acneogenic” cosmetic.

Medications prescribed will depend on the type of acne you have. Topical medications and oral antibiotics may be used alone or together. A topical medication might be an antibiotic lotion or gel (Clindamycin, Erythromycin, Tetracycline, Doxycycline or Minocycline) or a liquid or cream containing Benzoyl Peroxide or Retin A.

How long will it take to heal? Can I make those pimples on my skin go away?

Most acne can be successfully controlled by medications. When the drugs are stopped however, the acne may return. Medications must often be continued for years. No medicine can make the pimples that are now evident on your skin disappear instantaneously. They will heal within a few weeks. Medications may decrease the number of new pimples that would have appeared in the next few months. It takes 6 to 8 weeks before any real improvement can be seen, and in many cases up to 3 months.

What makes acne worse?

•  Squeezing pimples and digging fingernails can cause scarring and discoloration.
•  Repeated touching or putting pressure on areas with acne. (i.e.: from eyeglasses, headbands, hats, and telephones)
•  Excessive washing of the surface dirt and oil on acne-prone areas
•  Oil and grease in moisturizers, face creams, make-up and hair products
•  Certain medications for other problems
•  Your clinician should be informed of all medications that you are taking
•  Emotional stress
•  Hormones – acne may worsen the week prior to menses
•  Junk food does not affect acne.

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