Acne

Acne is the most common skin disorder in the US, and it can be a significant source of emotional or even physical pain—whether you’re an adolescent struggling with fierce, new hormones, or an adult with a sudden, confusing flare-up. Acne may be on the face or body, and left untreated, it can scar. You may have dark, discolored spots that take up to a year to fade, or even pits and pockmarks. There are many effective treatment options, so there’s no reason to “suffer through it” or just wait for acne to pass.

What are the symptoms?

You may have whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, papules (raised bumps), or pustules (raised bumps with a head), or a mix of any or all of these.  Inflammation or redness of the skin may also be present.

Who does it affect?

Preteens, teens, and adults — about 40-50 million Americans at any one time. Treatment should begin at the first signs of acne (ages 8-12, usually), especially if cystic acne runs in your family. Treating acne before it becomes cystic acne can prevent scarring.

What causes it?

Acne appears when pores are clogged, often by oil and dead skin cells. Sometimes bacteria gets trapped inside the clogged pore and multiplies, which is what causes cystic acne. Hormones play a role as well because they control oil production.

What is the treatment?

First, our doctors will make sure you have acne and not a similar-appearing condition, such as rosacea. Acne may be treated with a combination of topical and oral medications.

Topical benzoyl peroxide decreases oil production, while topical or oral antibiotics target the bacteria that causes cystic acne. Topical retinoids help your skin turn over quickly, which prevents clogged pores. Birth control pills may be prescribed to help level out hormones.

Oral isotretinoin (such as Accutane) effectively treats severe acne, but it comes with side effects and risks. You must be closely monitored during treatment with regular office visits and occasional blood tests to check for elevated liver enzymes. Patients must be extra-careful to avoid pregnancy on this treatment because it causes birth defects.


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