Acne is a skin condition that develops when your hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It often causes whiteheads, blackheads or pimples, and usually appears on the face, forehead, chest, upper back and shoulders. Acne is most common among teenagers, though it affects people of all ages.
Acne signs and symptoms vary depending on the severity of your condition:
Whiteheads (closed plugged pores)
Blackheads (open plugged pores)
Small red, tender bumps (papules)
Pimples (pustules), which are papules with pus at their tips
Large, solid, painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin (nodules)
Painful, pus-filled lumps beneath the surface of the skin (cystic lesions)
What Causes Acne?
While the exact cause of it remains a mystery, research has revealed four key players:
excess oil called sebum
clogged pores or hair follicles
Acne occurs when a hair follicle pore becomes clogged. Acne can cause inflammation when bacteria gets inside the pore. It can occur anywhere on the body, including the shoulders, back, neck, chest and upper arms, but it is often worst on the face.
Acne Treatments for Teens and Pre-Teens
Years ago parents thought that acne was just a condition that had to run its course. Today we know that without treatment, permanent scarring may occur as well as loss of self-esteem and depression. This is especially true for teens and pre-teens.
Treatment for acne depends on the severity. Grade 1 is for a mild case, with grade 4 being severe. Some expensive over-the-counter treatments may work for grade 1, but prescription medications are needed for more severe cases. These medications include topical, oral, injections and Blu-U Photodynamic therapy.
Acne Treatments for Adults
Although acne is most common during the teenage years, a number of patients in their twenties, thirties and forties suffer from acne that either persists from their teenage years or arises during adulthood.
The first step in the formation of an acne lesion is when sebum, an oil made by our bodies to prevent dry skin, increases dramatically, regardless of the person’s age. Not all the excess sebum can flow freely to the skin surface, and a clogged pore or hair follicle is the result.
Adult acne usually begins with “blackheads.” Blackheads may look like dirt, but they’re actually the result of oil and dead cells getting trapped in a pore where they block the duct and mix with bacteria. They then turn black when exposed to air. There are many causes of adult acne, some common ones being stress, bad cosmetics, hormones and birth control pills.
It should be noted that products that worked on acne during your teens usually do not work on adult acne. A number of prescription medications are available for treatment. If bacteria and inflammation become part of the problem as the acne lesion evolves, either oral or topical antibiotics are used to treat this.
Women & Acne
For a woman with late-appearing or particularly treatment-resistant acne, it is often important to check her hormonal levels to make sure that her androgen (male hormone) levels are not elevated. But the good news is that we have an arsenal of prescription treatments that can help you.