Acne is the most common of all skin diseases. It is a condition that produces blocked pores (whiteheads and blackheads), "pimples", cysts and/or boils. Acne affects most teenagers and many adults. It is most common on the face, but also occurs on the back, neck, shoulders and chest.
Acne is a disorder of the sebaceous glands ("oil glands"). It typically starts when rising hormone levels (especially in teenagers) over-stimulate these glands and cause them to produce extra oils and excess skin cells. This excess material causes a blockage in the gland and forms the basis of the sticky material commonly found in whiteheads and blackheads. This blockage also can lead to infection and inflammation. This is the basis for the red, inflamed lesions common in severe cases of acne.
Almost everyone has experienced or knows someone who has experienced the psychological effects of acne. Studies have concluded that some of the common feelings among people with acne are:
Moreover, because acne can cause permanent scarring, these consequences can last a lifetime. It is important to remember, however, that no one needs to suffer from acne. It is a highly treatable condition that dermatologists are trained to help manage and control.
The good news for acne sufferers is that there are many treatments available and acne can almost always be controlled. Here are some tips to for people with mild acne:
If acne does not respond to these simple measures, it is probably time to see a dermatologist.
Dermatologists can fight acne with many different medications and can develop a treatment plan according to its severity. Treatments range from mild to potent oral medications.
Hormonal treatments: These include spironolactone and oral contraceptives. These inhibit endogenous hormone production and are only useful in women.
Antibiotics. These fight the infection in the follicle. There are many topical antibiotics (benzoyl peroxide®, erythromycin®, cleocin®) and oral antibiotics (tetracycline®, doxycycline, minocycline®, erythromycin®) that are very effective.
Retinoids® and other mild exfoliants: These inhibit excess keratinization and excess sebum production. Think of these medications as unblocking the pores. The Retinoids® are a potent class of medications that includes topical medications (tretinoin®, adapalene®, and tazarotene®) as well as the oral medication, isotretinoin.