Most people have experienced some problem with acne during their lifetime. Although the condition is generally associated with adolescents, acne can be a major problem for adults as well. The good news is that there are lots of treatments available to help you keep your acne under control. Acne causes many people to feel embarrassed about their appearance, but getting treated right away can help you to keep your skin clear. Although the condition doesn't put you at any major health risk, the cosmetic and emotional effects can be scarring and learning to prevent and treat acne can help you to feel more confident about yourself.
What is Acne?
Acne is a distressing skin condition which occurs when the follicles of your hair are blocked with dead skin cells and natural oils. It is most commonly experienced on the face, neck, back, shoulders, and chest, although it can possibly appear in other parts of the body. The condition can be very frustrating and difficult to clear. It is often a lengthy process of waiting for acne blemishes to clear up and they are often quickly replaced by another appearance. Acne which is left untreated typically leaves scars on the skin the future. Although dermatologists can help to clear these scars, treating your acne early can help you avoid them altogether.
What causes Acne?
Contrary to popular belief, acne is not caused by dirt or eating greasy foods like french fries (although a poor diet can make the symptoms worse). The condition occurs when oil and dead organic material plug your body's hair follicles. These follicles are connected to something called the sebaceous glands which secrete a natural oily lubricant, sebum, used in your skin and hair. When functioning normally, sebum is secreted and follows the hair strands and exits the hair follicles onto the top layer of your skin. However, when sebum is released in excess of the normal amount and more dead skin cells are present, both build up within the hair follicle, creating a kind of plug. This plugged space provides the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow and live.
A whitehead or blackhead may be caused by this sebum and dead skin plug. If the hair follicle gets infected or inflamed, it will develop into a pimple, or a raised red spot with white pus inside. If the inflammation is deep enough in your skin, it may result in a cyst developing. Acne is not caused by other pores on your face or skin surface, such as sweat glands.
What else influences acne?
Hormones. Hormones can play a role in the development of acne. This is one reason why acne is associated with adolescents- during puberty, the hormone levels in boys and girls increase and change significantly. This makes the sebaceous glands expand and start to create more sebum, which can lead to hair follicle blockage and the appearance of blemishes. Hormones also change during pregnancy and if a person is taking hormone supplements, such as oral contraceptives.
Diet. It's a popular myth that greasy foods and chocolate can trigger acne. This isn't true and most studies show eating these foods have little to no effect on acne development. However, other studies have shown that some dietary factors can in fact impact acne. Most studies show that dairy products and foods high in carbohydrates, or foods which increase blood sugar can trigger acne.
Medications. Some specific medications can contribute to the development of acne. Most commonly identified are medications which contain steroids. Always tell your doctor if you are currently taking any prescription or nonprescription medications.
All acne treatments are focused on preventing new breakouts of blemishes. Because the breakouts must heal, noticing the improvements of the treatments takes a fair amount of time to notice. If you have not observed an improvement within three months of starting a treatment, it may be necessary to try another treatment method. The specific method of treatment will depend on the type of acne you are experiencing, so visiting a dermatologist is necessary to find the most appropriate treatment.
Topical acne treatments are the most common approach to controlling acne. Your dermatologist may recommend one of a variety of topical creams, lotions, or gels. In general, they will contain either antibiotics or benzoyl peroxide. These acne treatments can cause side effects, such as drying and peeling. Always talk with your doctor about the daily usage amounts and approaches for reducing side effects. Oral treatments containing antibiotics are also available for acne treatment.
"I was really embarrassed when I started to experience acne problems when I was pushing 30. I struggled with acne in high school, but I thought those irritating and awful problems were behind me. The Blaine clinic helped me learn more about the causes behind adult acne and what kind of treatment I could use to keep it under control. Their treatments have been phenomenal and I'm really glad that I don't have to deal with hiding my face anymore!"
"I love the facial treatments at the Blaine Dermatology Spa! I know that I'm getting the real deal under the direction of dermatologists like Dr. Peppis, and my skin always feels refreshed and beautiful. I definitely recommend trying out their treatments to anyone who wants to feel better about their skin health and their skin appearance. You'll feel amazing."
- Grace, Ballard
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