Acne (Acne Vulgaris)
What is acne?
Acne, or acne vulgaris, is an inflammatory disorder of hair follicles. It is present, to some degree, in more than 90% of people at some point in their lives. Acne most commonly appears on the face, chest, and back.
What causes acne?
The body produces oil, called sebum, to keep the skin moisturized. Sebum can become overproduced under the influence of hormones. Additionally, dead skin cells normally rise to surface of the pore and are shed when new skin cells are created. Sebum can cause these dead skin cells to stick together and become trapped in pores of the skin. The clogged pores ultimately causes acne to form.
Bacteria, such as p. acnes, may also contribute to clogged pores. The pore is the perfect environment for bacteria to multiply quickly. Sebum can plug hair follicles, leading to overgrowth of p. acnes that is trapped in the plugged follicle. This causes inflammation, which may appear as red and swollen pores. Occasionally, inflammation deep in the skin may create acne cyst or nodules.
Certain medications such as lithium, cortisone, hormones, iodides, some seizure medications, or isoniazid can also cause or worsen acne lesions.
While living with acne may be frustrating, the good news is that there are numerous ways to treat it! Generally, dermatologists will recommend a regimen consisting of oral and topical medications. Oral antibiotics may include medications such as doxycycline and minocycline. Popular topical medications may include Retin-A (tretinoin), clindamycin, benzoyl peroxide, or Differin (adapalene). Birth control and Accutane are also other popular options to help control acne. Contrary to popular belief, medications and treatments do not work overnight, and often take 6 weeks to 3 months to see improvement. It is important to consult with a dermatologist to learn which treatments are right for you.
Upgrade Your Skincare
In addition to using prescription medications, changing your skincare is an easy way to improve the appearance of your skin.
- Use a Gentle Cleanser. Many cleansers, which contain benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, or salicylic acid may be too harsh and cause further irritation. When choosing a cleanser, it is important to select one that is gently and effectively washes away dirt, oil, and makeup. Try EllaDerm Clean, $19.
- Retinol. If prescription Retin-A and tretinoin is too expensive or too harsh on your skin, try a retinol instead. Although retinols are generally considered to be less potent than prescription retinoids, medical-grade retinols can provide similar efficacy in unclogging pores with minimal irritation. Try Avene Retrinal 0.5 Cream, $62.
- Moisturize. When the skin in excessively dry, it may trigger your skin to produce more sebum to lubricate the skin. The overproduction of sebum can clog pores. A lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer can help combat dryness without clogging pores. If you normally have oily skin, a moisturizer is not necessary. Try EllaDerm Satin, $29.
- Sunscreen. There is a misconception that wearing sunscreen can cause acne. While many sunscreen formulations may clog pores, patients often benefit from wearing a good sunscreen. Sunscreen can help prevent acne scarring and discoloration. Look for a physical sunscreen with zinc or titanium for maximal protection. Try Elta MD UV Clear, $33.
Visit A Dermatologist
Consult with one of our San Diego dermatologists to get clear skin today! We pride ourselves in helping our patients find a regimen that is not only effective, but also affordable for both patients with medical coverage and no insurance. To schedule an appointment, call our clinic at 858-397-5755.
No time to visit our clinic or not in California? Visit Dr. Antoanella Calame and Dr. Nathan Uebelhoeronline through SkyMD, and get a diagnosis and treatment plan straight to your phone. SkyMD accepts patients with no insurance and is covered by most major insurances, such as Cigna, Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, and United Healthcare. Save money and time with SkyMD by getting all your dermatology questions answered from the comfort of your home! For more information, check out www.skymd.com