The term “acne” encompasses comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), papules (pimples), pustules, cysts, and nodules. These blemishes can manifest on nearly any area of the body, but are most problematic where oil glands are concentrated – on the face, neck, chest, back, and arms.
Acne occurs when oil glands and ducts in the skin become plugged with sebum, oil and dead skin cells, resulting in inflammation. Many factors contribute to or aggravate the blockage: heavy moisturizers, make-up, and sunscreens; heredity, sticky skin cells, and excess oil production; bacteria, hormones, and stress.
This condition is widespread, impacting an estimated 95 percent of the United States population (both male and female and all ethnic backgrounds) at some point in their lives. About one quarter of those acne sufferers are over the age of 25. Flare-ups are often associated with hormonal changes such as puberty (both genders), menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.
Acne may not be life threatening, but it can have a devastating impact on the lives of sufferers. Performance in school, at work, and in social situations declines as a result of the embarrassment of acne breakouts and scarring.
Some simple tactics help to prevent and control acne:
- Stress-management techniques are helpful, as acne can flare
around exams or before major events.
- Gently wash your face twice a day with warm (not hot) water.
- Shower and wash hair daily.
- Use only non-comedogenic cosmetics and skin care
products. Sunscreen can be used, just make sure it’s
non-greasy and doesn’t clog your pores.
- Don’t pick or squeeze if you get a pimple.
- See a dermatologist if your acne does not respond to over-the-counter treatment.
Severe acne can cause life-long scarring. Your dermatologist can prescribe topical antibiotic and vitamin A-based (retinoid) creams, oral antibiotics, birth control pills, hormone therapy, Isotretinoin, chemical peels, and laser and light therapies before acne leaves a permanent mark.
Help is also available for acne scarring, those red or dark marks, or pocked indentations, left by acne. Don’t let acne control your life. Control acne with the help of your dermatologist.