Acne is the term for pimples and complexion problems which occur in young people and adult women. Pimples usually occur on the face, but may involve the neck, chest, back and upper arms. Acne is only a skin problem and does not affect your general health.
* At puberty, the oil glands of the skin start producing an oily material called sebum. Sebum lubricates the skin. Sometimes the wall of the oil gland breaks and spills the sebum within the skin which causes redness, swelling, and pus - in other words a pimple. Plugged oil glands may form blackheads and whiteheads. Blackheads are not caused by dirt.
* There is a bacteria that normally lives on the skin called Propionibacterium acnes. This bacteria lives on the sebum produced by the skin oil glands. Sometimes, this bacteria multiplies and causes inflammation and acne.
* Acne is built into your genes; it runs in families.
* In women, acne frequently worsens at the time of menstruation.
* Foods do not cause acne. In some people, certain foods will make acne worse. The most common ones are chocolate, nuts, carbonated beverages, and milk. Most people's acne is not aggravated by these foods.
* Acne may become worse under stress.
* Cosmetics make acne worse.
* Adult women often have trouble with acne through middle age. The reason is unknown.
* Do not pick or squeeze your pimples, as it can leave scars.
* Dirt does not cause acne. You need to wash your face twice a day with a mild non-soap cleanser such as Cetaphil Lotion Cleanser or Exuviance Moisturizing Antibacterial Facial Cleanser sold here at the office.
* There is no medical cure for acne. Acne can be controlled, but not cured. Many people do outgrow acne.
* Sunlight may help some acne patients, but is not recommended. Sunlight causes aging, wrinkling of the skin, and skin cancer.
* If cosmetics are used, they should be oil-free (the kind that separates into two layers). Cosmetics labeled water-based may still contain oil.
* If a moisturizer is used, it should be labeled non-comedogenic which means does not cause pimples.
* Your dermatologist may prescribe antibiotics to put on the skin, or to take by mouth. Retin-A can also be used on the skin.
* A very effective acne regimen is two combine Retin-A with glycolic acid peels every two weeks. This involves coming to the office every two weeks to have a weak acid applied to the face. The acid removes the surface material from the skin that causes pimples to form. The face is left red and irritated for a few days. Once your acne is under control, the glycolic acid peels only need to be done every three months or so. When you come in for a light peel, the esthetician can also remove any blackheads or whiteheads that are found.
* Accutane is a drug taken by mouth which is reserved for severe acne. Accutane has many side effects and if taken during pregnancy will cause birth defects. Patients taking Accutane must have periodic blood tests and checkups.
* There are many different treatments for acne. Not all people respond to the same treatments. If the first medications do not work, chances are the second ones will.
* A zinc supplement taken each day can help improve acne. Zinc by mouth must be taken for several months before improvement will be noticed. Zinc supplements are available at your local drug or health food store.