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Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. Although it’s common, accurate information about acne can be scarce. This can make it difficult to get clearer skin. The information on this site can help you understand acne and how to successfully treat it.
As an experienced dermatologist in Orange County, I encounter hundreds of acne cases every month, ranging from mild to severe, and I hear all myths!
Acne affects people of all agens, races and economic backgrounds. It can be successfully treated – often results can be seen within three weeks of therapy.
Here are some frequent questions?
Why treat acne?
Myths about acne are as common as the skin problem. One common myth is that you have to let acne run its course.
Dermatologists know that letting acne runs its course is not always the best advice.
- Without treatment, dark spots and permanent scars can appear on the skin as acne clears.
- Treating acne often boosts a person’s self-esteem.
- Many effective treatments are available.
What Causes Acne in Men?
For most people, changes in hormone levels trigger acne. These hormones create oils that can lead to clogged pores, which sometimes let bacteria grow. Both of these problems cause breakouts.
The Male Breakout
Men often get acne on the face and back. Sweating can make it worse. Breakouts of back acne often happen in hot weather or after exercising. Back acne is harder to control than acne on your face. (The good news is that fewer people see acne on your back.) If you have stubborn acne, talk to me about prescription medications, including antibiotics to fight acne. Drugs with ingredients called retinoids are effective. Drugs that control hormones are not used for men. So lets talk before you try self medicating.What triggers acne in women?
Many things can trigger acne in women:
- Hormone changes during puberty. During puberty, girls have an increase in male sex hormones called androgens. This increase causes the glands to get larger and make more sebum.
- Hormone changes as an adult. The menstrual cycle is one of the most common acne triggers. Acne lesions tend to form a few days before the cycle begins and go away after the cycle is completed. Other hormone changes, such as pregnancy and menopause, improve acne in some women. But some women have worse acne during these times. Stopping use of birth control pills can play a role as well.
- Medicines. Certain medicines, such as those used to treat epilepsy and types of depression.
- Pressure or friction on the skin. Friction caused by bike helmets or backpacks can make acne worse.
- Family history. If other people in your family have acne, there is a greater chance you will have it.
Does poor hygiene cause acne?
It is a myth that women get acne because they don’t wash enough. Too much washing or scrubbing the skin harshly can make acne worse. And washing away surface oils doesn’t do much to prevent or cure acne, because it forms under the skin. The best way to clean the face is to gently wash it twice a day with a mild soap or cleanser. Be careful to remove make-up without harsh scrubbing.
Can stress cause acne?
Stress does not cause acne. But, acne may be a side effect of some medicines used to treat stress or depression. And in some cases, the social and emotional impact of acne lesions causes stress. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns.
Can eating chocolate or greasy foods cause acne?
While many women feel that eating chocolate or greasy foods causes acne, experts have not found a link between the diet and acne. Foods seem to have little effect on acne in most people. But, it’s important to eat a healthy diet for good health.
Can more serious forms of acne be treated?
Yes. Work with me to find the best treatment for you.
Moderate to moderately severe acne. This type of acne consists of several whiteheads, blackheads, papules and pustules that cover from ¼ to ¾ of the face and/or other parts of the body. It can be treated with antibiotic lotions or gels, as well as retinoic acid. Retinoic acid is an altered form of vitamin A. It helps prevent whiteheads and blackheads. Your doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic pill, such as erythromycin. If you take birth control pills to prevent pregnancy, antibiotics can affect how well they work. Be sure to use a second method of birth control with the pill, such as a condom. Retinoic acid and antibiotic pills can make the skin sensitive to the sun. So, wear sunscreen and stay in the shade while using them.
Severe acne. Severe acne consists of deep cysts, redness, swelling, extreme damage to the skin and scarring. You should see a dermatologist to care for this type of acne. Scarring can be prevented with appropriate treatments. Your dermatologist can prescribe oral antibiotics and oral contraceptives. Large inflamed cysts can be treated with an injection of a drug that lessens the redness, swelling, and irritation, and promotes healing.
I will prescribe Accutane®, if other treatments have not worked. This is a strong medicine that can help prevent scarring and treat active disease. But, Accutane also can cause birth defects. It is important that you are not pregnant and do not plan to get pregnant while taking this medicine. You must use two methods of birth control at the same time. This is done for one month before treatment begins, during treatment, and for a full month after stopping the drug. Other side effects of this drug may include dry eyes, itching, mood changes, and changes in the blood and liver. You and your dermatologist can decide whether this medicine is right for you based on the pros and cons. Use any prescribed medicine exactly as you are advised. Taking more medicine than you are supposed to take may make acne or your general health worse.
Some large cysts do not respond to medication and may need to be drained or removed. I amthe only person who should drain or remove these. You should never try to drain or remove your acne by squeezing or picking. This can lead to infection, worsen your acne, and cause scarring.