Research has revealed that acne is caused by four key players: excess oil from hormone production, clogged pores, inflammation and bacteria.
The excess oil is called sebum, an oil that our bodies make to prevent skin from drying out. Sebum increases dramatically during adolescence, when hormones known as androgens increase sebum production.
Caring for your skin:
Excessive washing and scrubbing will not prevent or cure acne, and doing so can actually irritate the skin and worsen acne. Dr. Fromm recommends gently washing the skin with a mild cleanser twice daily with lukewarm water.
Waiting for acne to clear on its own can be frustrating. Acne can cause scarring and is also known to cause poor self-image, depression and anxiety. Proper treatment with a dermatologist is recommended to avoid these physical and emotional scars.
Today, there are many effective treatments for acne, but no single treatment is right for everyone. Fromm Dermatology can help to tailor an acne treatment that is best suited for the specific type of acne and your skin type.
Commonly used treatments are:
Topical treatments: These are the standard of care for all types of acne and include retinoids, benzoyl peroxide formulations, and other prescription topicals. Retinoids (vitamin A derivatives) have becomes the mainstay of treatment for acne and are recommended to be first-line treatment for most types of acne. Retinoids, like other topical acne medications, can be quite irritating to the skin at first, so your dermatologist will have several tips and techniques to minimize irritation until your skin adjusts to the medications.
Oral treatments: Oral antibiotics are often used short-term for more severe acne, or for patients that are more distressed about their breakouts and desire more rapid improvement. Oral antibiotics should not be used long-term for management due to concerns about antibiotic resistance and other known side effects.
Birth control pills and other hormone therapy (spironolactone) can help to decrease the levels of male hormones (anti-androgen effects). These types of medications are helpful for women with larger cystic type of acne that is related to their menstrual cycle.
Isotretinoin (generic Accutane) is the gold-standard treatment for severe acne that can cause scarring. It is also sometimes used for moderate acne that is resistant to other therapies. This medication requires monthly office visits and lab tests. Women must take precautions not to become pregnant while on isotretinoin because of the risk of severe birth defects.
Treatment of Acne Scars:
Microneedling and fractionated laser treatments are currently felt to be the gold standard treatment for acne scarring. Other lasers may be used, as well, in addition to chemical peels, surgery, and fillers. Because there are several different types of acne scarring, the best approach involves an individualized treatment plan.
While improvements to scarring can be made, treatment will never yield 100% normal skin. Acne treatment can also be very costly and is not covered by insurance. EARLY treatment to prevent acne scarring is always the best treatment.