We all remember or teenage years, filled with hormones, awkwardness and yes, acne. And maybe you now face acne with your own teenagers or grandchildren. Perhaps as an adult you are experiencing acne as well. Does it mean your skin is too oily? Are you eating too much chocolate? Are you under too much stress? Why is this happening? And what should we be doing about it?
It is probably no surprise that acne is the most frequent skin condition in the US. Every year, about 80% of adolescents have some form of acne and about 5% of adults experience acne. Acne pops up as pimples appearing on the face. It can also show up on your back and chest.
There are 3 different types of “pimples” or acne:
What Causes Acne?
Very simply, acne forms when normal oils that are under the skin and dead skin cells get clogged in hair follicles/pores. (Click here for a more complex explanation.) So what is the difference between a whitehead and a blackhead? If the pore is not completely closed then you get a blackhead. If it is fully blocked, then you have a whitehead. If either a whitehead or blackhead becomes inflamed, then that can lead to a red pustule or pimple. It is very important to avoid the temptation to “pop that zit.” If you pick or scratch at that spot, it can make it more inflamed and infected and can lead to long-term scarring.
Like so many things in our lives, genetics is a big factor when it comes to acne too. So do hormones which coincide with times in our lives like puberty and pregnancy and can cause activity in the oil glands which contribute to acne. The connections between diet and acne are not yet completely understood; according to the Mayo Clinic, some foods including dairy and high carb foods may also increase breakouts. Also, individual people have individual people have individual sensitivities, so it’s important to pay attention to things in your own diet that might coincide with increases in acne. Stress and lack of sleep can also aggravate acne if you already have it.
And while having a dirty face does not cause acne, it is important to gently clean your skin. Cleaning your skin gently is a good part of any good skin care routine to slough off that top layer of dead skin cells, oils and anything you have added to your skin like moisturizers, sunscreens or make-up. Scrubbing or using something too harsh can irritate and inflame acne so be gentle. (For more on skin care click here.)
How Do You Treat Acne?
While whiteheads and blackheads seem to pop up overnight, treating acne is a relatively slow process; there is no overnight remedy; it’s a chronic problem so we treat it chronically. Here are some of the treatments we use at Fryer Dermatology to help control acne and decrease the risks of scarring:
Acne is such a common problem and there are ways to control it. Of course there are hundreds of over the counter products that promise to get rid of pimples. Just be careful that you are not being too harsh on your skin. And remember, resist the temptation to pop that zit!
If you are concerned about your acne, contact us to make an appointment. Let us help you to make your skin looks it’s best.