Medical Dermatology

Acne

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in the United States and is becoming more common. It affects men, women, and children. While rarely dangerous, acne can cause significant discomfort and distress. Some acne leads to severe scarring.

Acne has several causes. As the body starts to make sebum (which is an oil that keeps skin from drying out) the dead skin cells can stick together inside the pore, causing them to clog. These areas may them become inflamed, red, and painful. Some common signs to look for indicating you may have acne include: whiteheads and blackheads (also known as comedones), papules (small, raised, solid pimples), pustules (pus filled pimples), cysts, and nodules

Common locations for acne are the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, arms, and buttocks. There are many different ways to treat acne. These therapies may target bacteria, sebum protection, or hormonal factors. Topical treatments may contain retinoids (a vitamin-A derivative), antibiotics, or weak acids. Medications like birth control pills, antibiotics (which can help kill the bacteria), Spironolactone, and  isotretinoin (also known as Accutane) are oral medications also used to treat acne.

Early and appropriate medical treatment for acne can prevent lifelong scarring.

Helpful tips for dealing with acne:

  • Gently cleanse skin using lukewarm water and non-abrasive cleansers twice a day; avoid scrubbing and picking at your skin
  • Shampoo regularly
  • Avoid touching your face

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