Bayside Office
210-08 Northern Blvd Ste 2
Bayside, NY 11361
(718) 224-8200

Melville Office
150 Broadhollow Road Ste 100
Melville, NY 11747
(631) 673-5700

All About Acne

September 30, 2016
Category: Skin Care
Tags: Acne  

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:

  1. Comedones: whiteheads and blackhead that result from dead skin cells and oil clogging the pores. These do not cause scarring but are the precursor lesion that leads to other forms of acne.
  2. Inflammatory acne: Red Pustules or pimples which result from inflammation and infection within clogged pores or follicles. These can lead to sometime lead to scarring.
  3. Cystic and Nodular acne: the more sever deep pimples, bumps, and nodules forming below the skin. These are much more likely to scar and may require more aggressive medications.

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:

  • Benzoyl Peroxide -- Used in mild cases of acne, benzoyl peroxide reduces the blockages in the hair follicles.
  • Oral and Topical Antibiotics -- Used to treat any infection in the pores.
  • Hormonal Treatments -- This can be used for adult women with hormonally induced acne.
  • Topical Retinoids -- Creams derived from Vitamin including tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene. These help unplug the blocked-up material in whiteheads/blackheads and they have become a mainstay in the treatment of acne.
  • Extraction -- Removal of whiteheads and blackheads using a small metal instrument that is centered on the whitehead or blackhead and pushed down, extruding the blocked pore. This is not something you should do on your own!
  • Intralesional Injections -- injections of very diluted cortisone into cysts and nodules make them resolve faster and reduce the risk of scarring
  • Isotretinoin --  for the most severe acne, a drug that will be curative in most cases of nodular acne but which should only be used under the supervision of a board-certified dermatologist
  • Isolaz Laser --  an intense pulse light-based laser which helps treat and control moderate acne

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.