Acne is one of the most common skin conditions; it affects both adolescents and adults. Our patients often worry about the appearance of acne and the social embarrassment it may cause. We offer many effective treatments to
Acne often initially occurs during adolescence. A combination of hormones, genetics, environmental factors, and bacteria are major contributors to this condition. Blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts, which may become swollen and painful, appear on the face, chest, and back.
During your acne appointment, our dermatologists, Dr. Eric Tabor or Dr. David Pate and one of our certified Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants or Aestheticians will help create an acne treatment plan individualized to meet your specific needs.
How common is acne?
Acne Vulgaris (the medical term for acne) affects approximately 45 million people in the United States and is the most common reason patients will visit the dermatology office.
What causes acne?
Acne vulgaris is generally thought to be caused by four main factors:
I wash my face several times a day. Why do I still get acne?
Many people still believe that acne is caused by dirty skin. While washing the skin can help remove excess surface oils and dead skin cells, washing alone usually isn’t enough to overcome the biological factors causing acne lesions to arise. Washing the skin twice a day gently with water and a mild soap is usually all that is recommended. When that isn’t enough, acne medications may be recommended to help curb outbreaks.
Stress is commonly blamed for the development of acne. Stress can have many physiologic effects on the body, including changes in hormones that may theoretically lead to acne. In some cases, the stress may be caused by the acne lesions, not the other way around. Stress is commonly blamed for the development of acne.
I never had acne as a teenager. Why am I now getting acne as an adult?
Typically, acne is thought to begin at puberty and be resolved by the early 20’s. This is not always the case. In some cases, acne may persist into adulthood. Such types of acne include severe forms that affect the body called truncal acne as well as the face which is more common in men and acne associated with the menstrual cycle in women. In other cases, acne may not present itself until adulthood. Such acne is more likely to affect females than males. Hormonal changes due to pregnancy, ovarian pathology, and oral contraceptive pill changes are just a few examples of hormonal changes that can lead to acne.
What role does diet play in acne?
Contrary to popular belief, acne is not caused by food. Following a strict diet will not clear your skin. While some people feel that their acne is aggravated by certain foods, particularly chocolate, colas, peanuts, shellfish and some fatty foods, there is no scientific evidence that suggests food causes or influences acne. Avoid any foods which seem to worsen your acne and, for your overall health, eat a balanced diet–but diet shouldn’t matter if the acne is being appropriately treated.
Is it harmful to squeeze my blemishes?
Yes. In general, acne lesions should not be picked or squeezed by the patient. In particular, inflammatory acne lesions should never be squeezed. Squeezing forces infected material deeper into the skin, causing additional inflammation and possible scarring.
Can anything be done about scarring caused by acne?
Scarring is best prevented by getting rid of the acne. Dermatologists can use various methods such as topical medication, lasers, or dermabrasion to improve the scarring caused by acne. The treatment must always be individualized for the specific patient. It is important that the acne is well controlled before any procedure is used to alleviate scarring.
How long before I see a visible result from using my acne medication?
The time for improvement depends upon the product being used, but in almost all cases it is more a matter of weeks or months instead of days. For a typical acne visit, I begin a regimen at the initial visit and then request a follow-up visit 6 weeks later. At this point, 50% improvement would medically be a great achievement. In everyday life, however, this means hypothetically if you had 10 lesions for the first visit, you would still have 5 lesions remaining in a 50% improvement scenario. It is very important for patients to be aware of this time frame so they do not become discouraged and discontinue their medications. Conversely, if you see no change whatsoever at the 12-week point, you might want to check with your dermatology provider regarding the need to change treatments.
My topical treatment seems to work on the spots I treat, but I keep getting new acne blemishes. What should I do?
Topical acne medications are made to be used on all acne-prone areas, not just individual lesions. In other words, we recommend that a patient with acne treats the whole face, chest, back, or whatever body part you are trying treat. It should not be used for spot treatment unless otherwise indicated by your dermatology provider. Part of the goal is to treat the skin before lesions can form and to prevent formation, not just to treat existing lesions.
My face is clear! Can I stop taking my medication now?
Topical acne medications are made to be used on all acne-prone areas, not just individual lesions. In other words, we recommend that a patient with acne treats the whole face, chest, back, or whatever body part you are trying treat. It should not be used for spot treatment unless otherwise indicated by your dermatology provider. Part of the goal is to treat the skin before lesions can form and to prevent the formation, not just to treat existing lesions.
I have trouble remembering to take my oral medication every day. What should I do if I forget a dose?
This is a common problem. Many patients try to associate taking their medication with a routine daily event such as brushing teeth or applying makeup. It also helps to keep the medication close to the area where the reminder activity is carried out. My recommendation is to keep a sticky note on the mirror, that way when a patient is getting ready for work or school, they will be reminded to take/apply their medicines.
If you forget a dose of the oral medication, it is not a good idea to double up on the medication at this can increase side effects. You should just continue the regimen as prescribed. The same goes for the topical treatments as it was discussed before: just because you use the medicines more doesn’t mean that you will get better results.