Getting control of acne
September 21, 2009
Acne affects all ages. In the US, there are approximately 17-50 million cases of acne noted. This condition however, brings dread to many teenagers today. Ads on the television and in magazines constantly advertise products for controlling and curing acne.
What is acne?
Acne occurs when the sebaceous follicles on the face, upper back, and chest become clogged. The extra sebum or oil mixes with dead skin cells and plugs up the sebaceous follicles. If the blockage occurs near the surface of the follicle then an open comedone or blackhead occurs.
Cystic acne occurs when the wall of a plugged follicle breaks deep in the skin.
Who is affected by acne? Infants, teens, and adults can experience acne at anytime. Many adult women develop acne in their 30’s. There are more females affected by acne in the adult years yet in the teens, the males are affected more.
How is acne treated?
Home care includes:
Use of a mild soap, such as Dove or Neutrogena
Wash face after removal of sports equipment and headbands
Do not “pick” at lesions
Avoid oil containing make-up and sunscreen. Look for products that state “comedone-free”
What medications are used for acne?
Try over-the-counter acne medications first, such as Clearasil and Neutrogena products. If these are not effective, seek medical evaluation by your provider.
For mild inflammatory acne, Topical Medication such as Differin or Retin-A applied to the skin on a nightly basis is often successful. These topical medications may make your skin dry and photosensitive. It is important to regularly apply oil-free sunscreen if you go outside when using these medicines.
If additional help is needed, individuals may be placed on oral antibiotics such as minocycline or erythromycin. After a certain time period, the person may only need to take oral antibiotics when there is a flair-up.
In severe cases of cystic acne, some people are placed on oral retinoids, such as Accutane. This drug seems to decrease skin bacteria, decrease follicular obstruction, decrease sebum production, and have anti-inflammatory properties. Side effects of this medication include: dry eyes, lips, nose, and skin. Up to 10 % of individuals experience hair loss as well. There have been reports of elevated liver enzymes and lipids. Therefore, if you are on this medication, it is very important to have blood testing as directed by your provider on a regular basis. Accutane is teratogenic in women of childbearing age and the FDA have very strict guidelines for any female of childbearing age to follow in order to receive this medication.
With all of the advances in acne treatment today, there is usually a way for teens and adults alike to gain control of their breakouts.
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