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Acne Treatment

Acne is a skin condition characteriazed by plugged pores, inflamed pimples and deeper, tender lumps (cysts).  It usually occurs in the areas of increased oil (sebaceous) glands – face, chest and back.  Typical teenage acne develops between ages 12 to 18, but may occur as early as age 8.

May adult women, even those who never experienced teenage acne, develop hormonal acne during their 20’s or 30’s, and most find this very frustrating.

Causes of Acne

Acne is generally thought to be due to genetics, puberty, hormones and occasionally oil-based cosmetics.

Diet and dirt are not causes of acne.  The dark pigmentation in blackheads is pigment from the hair follicle.  Excessive washing and scrubbing can actually make acne worse.

In the acne seen in adult women, the hormonal fluctuations of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause or birth control pills have a major effect on acne severity.  This type of acne is often cyclican and occurs around the mouth and chin.

Why is Acne Treament necessary?

While it is true that teenage acne often resolves on it’s own by age 18-20, it can cause significant scarring if left untreated.  Emotional scars can often spoil the teen years, and acne can be equally distressing for adult women who often lament that they are starting to get wrinkles and still have acne.

How is Acne Treated?

All dermatologists use combination therapy to treat acne.  What combination is used will depend upon whether the acne is primarily plugged pores (blackheader and whiteheads) or inflammatory lesions (cysts and papules).

For comedones (plugged pored) topical medications with vitamin A acid-like compounds and benzoyl peroxide are usually used first.  Treatment is an ongoing process and improvement may take up to 6 weeks to start.

For more severe acne, oral antibiotics such as tetracycline, minocycline, doxycycline orsulfamethoxazole are often added to the topical gels/creams.  These antibiotics help to reduce inflammation even though acne is not caused by an infection.  Tender, swollen acne cysts can be treated with cortisone injections if they are caught early on.

Acne related to hormonal fluctuations is usually treated with birth control pills often in combination with spironolactone (which helps to block the effect of hormones on oil glands) or oral antibiotics.  Contrary to old case reports, detailed studies have shown that antibioics of the kind used to treat acne do not reduce the effectiveness of contraceptive pills.

We have an assortment of skin care pamphlets with more information on various conditions.  Stop in and pick some up to learn more!