What is Acne?

Dealing with problematic skin can be both frustrating and difficult. Most adults experience acne during the teen years. However, some may experience acne much later in their adult life. Women are more prone to acne because they tend to use more products and makeup on the face. That does not mean that fewer men are affected by this condition ̶ anyone at any age or race can develop acne. The root cause of acne varies according to each individual situation. Medical professionals identify acne with lifestyle habits that measure the level of toxic behaviours leading to things like stress, anxiety, and lack of restful sleep. Hormonal imbalances and sometimes even genetics play a role in the development of acne.

Causes Of Acne

The medical term for acne is acne vulgaris, a skin disease of the oil glands at the foundation of the hair follicles. Acne is not harmful, but it can result in scarring of the skin for some recurrent conditions. The inner layer of the skin, the dermis, consists of tiny pores that are similar to little holes. Hair follicles are attached to pores through small pathways that produce sebum, which has oil characteristics. The purpose of sebum is to carry the dead cells through the hair follicle on to the surface of the skin. Hair anywhere on the body goes through phases, so naturally our body eliminates the hair and the regrowth process continues. When the follicle gets obstructed with debris, the production of sebum also gets trapped, causing inflammation to the surrounded area and follicle. Common symptoms of inflammation include swelling of the skin, pain or discomfort, and visible redness. The inflamed area quickly gets infected with bacteria that causes the pimple to form and swell up higher than the surrounding non-infected areas of the skin. Acne can develop on the face, shoulders, chest, back, and neck. The causes of acne are heavily researched, and most experts believe that genetics and hormones are the key factors to the infection of the dermis follicles. Androgen is a big culprit in causing acne because it causes oil glands to produce more oil, leading to the over-development of sebum in the pores. Excessive sebum causes the degeneration of the cellular walls in the pores, which leads to the overgrowth of bacteria. The body can create a variety of unpleasant acne, including the common blackheads and whiteheads. Papules and pustules along with nobules and cysts are also common in more serious cases of acne. Although you cannot control when acne develops on the body, you can make certain lifestyle changes to help keep the pimples away. Dietary changes can have a tremendous impact on the prevention of acne. Lowering your consumption of unhealthy foods with ingredients like sugar, artificial flavours, and sweeteners is a simple way to avoid the triggers of acne. Knowing your skin type is essential in  maintaining your skin because then you can ensure that you don’t over-dry or over-hydrate areas that can eventually cause hard skin. At the clinic at Yorkville, Dr. Torgerson assesses your skin type with the current conditions and create a skincare regimen with facial treatments based on your request.

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Treating Mild Acne

The majority of people who get acne will develop mild acne. This can usually be treated with OTC (over-the-counter) medications. OTC medications can be bought at a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription. They are usually applied to the skin, so they are called topical medicines. Most acne OTC products may contain the following active ingredients: Resorcinol – Resorcinol helps break down blackheads and whiteheads. It is a crystalline phenol and comes from various resins. Resorcinol is also used for treating dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis. Benzoyl peroxide – Benzoyl peroxide kills bacteria and slows down your glands’ production of oil. Benzoyl peroxide is a white crystalline peroxide used in bleaching (flour or oils or fats) and as a catalyst for free radical reactions. It works as a peeling agent, accelerating skin turnover and clearing pores, which in turn reduces the bacterial count in the affected area. Salicylic acid – Salicylic acid helps break down blackheads and whiteheads and also reduces the shedding of the cells that line the follicles of the oil glands. It is effective in treating inflammation and swelling. Salicylic acid is a white crystalline substance that is also used as a fungicide or in making aspirin, dyes, or perfumes. It causes the epidermis to shed skin more easily and prevents pores from becoming blocked while at the same time allowing room for new cells to grow. It is commonly added to shampoos used for treating dandruff. Sulphur – Sulphur also helps break down blackheads and whiteheads. Sulphur, in its native form, is a yellow crystalline solid. It has been used for centuries to treat acne, psoriasis, and eczema. Scientists are not sure how sulphur works to help skin diseases. However, we do know that elemental sulphur does oxidize slowly to sulphurous acid, which is a mild reducing and antibacterial agent. Retin-A – Retin-A helps unplug blocked pores. Retin-A contains tretinoin, an acid form of vitamin A, also known as all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA). Tretinoin is also used for the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia. Retin-A has been used widely to combat the ageing of the skin, and it also acts as a chemical peel. Azelaic acid – Azelaic acid strengthens the cells that line the follicles, stops oil eruptions, and reduces bacteria growth. It is a saturated dicarboxylic acid found naturally in wheat, rye, and barley. Azelaic acid also mops up free radicals, which reduces inflammation. It is useful for patients with darker skin who have dark patches on their face (melasma) or whose acne spots leave persistent brown marks.

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Before & After

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Acne Medications

You can buy acne medications in the forms of gels, soaps, pads, creams, and lotions. If your skin is sensitive, you may prefer a cream or lotion. Gels, which are usually alcohol-based and tend to dry the skin, are better for people with oily skin. OTC medications will have these ingredients in different concentrations. It is advisable to start with the lowest strengths. You may experience skin irritation, redness, or burning when you first try them. These side effects usually go away after continued use. If they do not, you should see your doctor. If your acne is more severe, you should consider seeing a dermatologist, a skin specialist. The specialist may prescribe a treatment that contains some of the active ingredients mentioned above, such as benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, and adapalene. Prescription medications for acne are presented in many forms, such as creams and lotions. Your dermatologist will decide what is best for you. You may be prescribed an oral or topical antibiotic. Antibiotics can combat the growth of bacteria and reduce inflammation. Most commonly, erythromycin and tetracycline are prescribed as antibiotics for the treatment of acne. If an acne cyst becomes severely inflamed, there is a high risk of rupturing. A ruptured acne cyst can often result in scarring. The specialist may inject a diluted corticosteroid to treat the inflamed cyst and prevent scarring. The injection will lower the inflammation and speed up healing. The cyst will “melt” within a few days. This is a strong oral retinoid used to treat severe cystic acne as well as severe acne that has not responded to other medications and treatments.

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Oral Antibiotics

Oral antibiotics are frequently prescribed for patients with severe acne and some patients with moderate acne too. The aim of such oral antibiotics is to lower the population of Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), a bacterium commonly found on the skin, which will multiply rapidly in blocked follicles. The dosage will be initially high, and then as the acne reduces, so will the dosage. Antibiotics are not taken for more than 6 months. As time passes, the P. acnes can become resistant to the antibiotic, and another antibiotic is needed. Some U.S. studies have indicated that it is better to use oral broad-spectrum antibiotics. The majority of women with acne find that taking certain oral contraceptives clears it up. Oral contraceptives suppress the overactive gland and are commonly used as long-term treatments for acne in women. If a woman has a blood-clotting disorder, smokes, has a history of migraines, or is over 35, she should not take this medication without checking with a gynecologist first. As with oral antibiotics, the aim of topical antimicrobials for the treatment of acne is to reduce P. acnes populations. Topical antimicrobials are used for patients with moderate to severe acne. Examples include clindamycin, erythromycin, and sodium sulfacetamide. The dermatologist may prescribe a topical retinoid. Topical retinoids are a derivative of vitamin A, and they are very popular for the treatment of acne. They unclog the pores and prevent whiteheads and blackheads from developing. Examples of topical retinoids prescribed in the U.S.A. are adapalene, tazarotene, and tretinoin.

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