Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States and affects 40 to 50 million people on average. Acne typically affects teenagers but can also affect newborns and adults. The face, chest, shoulders and back are the most commonly affected areas, but acne can affect other areas of the body as well. It can appear on the skin as whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, papules, cysts, and nodules. Acne is most commonly caused by oil on the skin or dead skin cells that clog the pores. Propionibacterium acnes, P. acnes, is a bacterium that lives on the skin that can get inside the pores, triggering acne. Acne is also genetic and can be inherited from your mother or father. It can also be triggered by changes in hormone levels. It is important to treat acne because if left untreated it can cause scarring, dark spots on the skin, low self esteem, and in some cases depression. It is important to see your dermatologist to determine what kind of acne you have and determine what treatment options are best for you.
Type of Acne
How to treat your acne depends on the kind of acne you have:
Acne vulgaris is when the acne is on the surface of the skin. This is typically treated with topical medications.
Cystic acne is when the acne extends deep under the skin. This typically needs to be treated with topical and oral medications. It is important not to pick or pop your pimples as this can trigger more acne and cause scarring.
Mild acne can often be successfully treated with over the counter benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. If this does not improve your acne, it is important to see your dermatologist to discuss other treatment options. Topical retinoids, such as Differin and Retin-A, can be prescribed that act as a chemical exfoliant for the skin. This decreases the likelihood of developing a clogged pore. Prescription topical antibiotics, such as Clindamycin or Aczone, can be used to control the P. acnes bacterium. Oral antibiotics, such as Doxycycline or Minocycline, can also be used for moderate to severe acne to obtain optimum control. Very severe acne or acne that is resistant to these medications option may qualify for treatment with Isotretinoin. Isotretinoin has many risks and side effects and must be strictly monitored. This treatment is not for everyone and must be determined necessary by your dermatologist.
As you can see, there are many treatment options available for treating acne. It is very important to be patient when treating your acne as it will often take 1-2 months to see improvement. If you are suffering from acne or have any questions, it is important to schedule an appointment with your dermatologist to determine what treatment regimen is best for you.
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