People living with acne often suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
What is Acne?
Acne develops when hair follicles in our skin become clogged with sebum (skin’s oil) and dead skin cells, which together form the acne “plug”. This plug can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria and excessive inflammation within the hair follicle- a process which can lead to scarring.
Acne comes in many forms, yet all are called “acne.” Acne lesions can be broadly split into two general types: 1) “inflammatory acne”, which is characterized by pimples, cysts, and nodules and leads to scarring and brown spots, and 2) “comedonal acne”, which is characterized by blackheads and whiteheads (ie, open and closed comedones). Most acne has both types of lesions present in varying degrees. Clinical categories of acne range from limited, mostly comedonal acne, such as blackheads on the nose or chin, to widespread severe inflammatory acne. Acne has many causes, including hormone fluctuations, environmental stressors, and genetics.
Gettin rid of Acne
Remember: although acne is extremely common, acne is quite a complicated disease, and there is a considerable amount of misunderstanding and misinformation circulating in the public realm. Your awareness of this, and willingness to seek accurate understanding and professional guidance, will give you the relief you deserve and help you manage this condition optimally to restore your skin to its natural state of health and beauty.
It is never helpful to get frustrated at our genetics- and always powerful to get educated. Seeking professional guidance early on will not only relieve you of the frustration and anxiety associated with acne, but can also curtail or prevent the side effects of acne, such as discoloration and permanent scarring.
Because acne is a complicated disease, with many different clinical presentations, there is no ONE medication and no SINGLE COMBINATION of treatments that work for everyone. This is an extremely important point to keep in mind. Acne treatment MUST be tailored to each individual, and followed for responsiveness. Generally, dermatologists treat acne with a program that initially includes multiple products from different classes, to “hit the acne over the head with multiple hammers”, and then, as the condition improves, the program is simplified to one or two products.
Ten Key Features of Acne Management
- Be patient! – Acne can be slow to respond to medications.
- Follow the program! Acne responds best to combination therapy using several medications from different groups initially. After improvement is seen, the regimen can be simplified.
- Recognize acne is variable! Different types of acne require different medication programs
- Be consistent! Acne will only respond if medication is taken faithfully as recommended
- Be aware! Acne may change forms over time naturally; sudden worsening needs medical attention.
- Get educated! Genetics plays the biggest role in acne presentation, with hormonal influences (from puberty, stress, menopause, or other), being the biggest influence on this predisposition. External influences, such as food, play a lesser role, if any.
- News flash! Acne can present at any age, not just in adolescence! This is normal.
- Be easy on yourself! Acne has an enormous psychological impact- at any age! It is important to remember, there are experts to help you, and acne IS treatable.
- Be gentle! Use a gentle facial cleanser and don’t scrub; harsh soaps or practices may aggravate acne by stimulating oil glands.
- Do your best! Try not to pick, and strive to use “non-comedogenic” products (sunscreen, make-up, moisturizers)