According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), acne affects nearly 50 million Americans every year. Acne is considered a skin disease of the pilosebaceous unit, which is the skin pore and associated hair follicle/oil complex.
While acne typically affects adolescents and young adults, it can begin and even worsen for adults in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Acne will typically resolve itself, but it can take years to decades to completely dissipate.
Acne is caused by five main factors:
- Excess sebum or oil production;
- Clogged pores;
- Increased activity of androgens, a type of hormone;
- Overgrowth of certain strains of Cutibacterium acnes, a bacteria normally found in the skin pores; and
Acne can be treated through a variety of over-the-counter and prescription topical and systemic medications. Mild to moderate acne is often treated with various antibiotic and retinoid lotions, creams, and gels. More severe cases are managed with pills, including antibiotics, birth control, spironolactone, and isotretinoin. It is important to treat acne early and effectively to prevent permanent scarring.
Tips to keep your skin healthy and prevent acne:
- Use a gentle, soap-free face cleanser one to two times daily;
- Moisturize with a non-comedogenic, oil-free moisturizer;
- Apply a non-comedogenic, oil-free sunscreen daily (even on cloudy winter days!);
- Resist the urge to “pop pimples” as it can cause scarring;
- Avoid the use of exfoliating face washes and harsh washcloths as they can cause further irritation; and
- Manage stress through meditation, yoga, massage therapy and other methods to help control the production of oil-stimulating hormones.
Make an appointment to see a dermatologist if your acne is persistent, scarring, or severe. It is important to remember that treating acne often takes two to three months before significant results can be seen. Please be patient!