Acne, or acne vulgaris, is a skin problem that starts when oil and dead skin cells clog up your pores. Some people call them blackheads, blemishes, whiteheads, pimples, or zits. When you have just a few red spots, or pimples, you have a mild form of acne. Severe acne can mean hundreds of pimples that can cover the face, neck, chest, and back. Acne can consist of bigger, solid, red lumps that are painful (cysts).
Acne is very common among teens but can occur at any age. It usually gets better after the teen years. Some women who never had acne growing up will have it as an adult, often right before their menstrual period.
How you feel about your acne may not be related to how bad it is. Some people with severe acne are not bothered by it. Others are embarrassed or upset even though they have only a few pimples.
The good news is that there are many good treatments that can help you get acne under control.
What causes acne?
Acne starts when oil and dead skin cells clog the skin’s pores. This generally happens because the oil reacts with the air and/or changes of temperature to become more solid. If germs get into the pores, the result can be swelling, redness, and pus. See a picture of how pimples form .
For most people, acne starts during the teen years. This is because hormonal changes can make the skin more oily after puberty starts. Interestingly, the treatment of acne in certain female patients may entail initiation of birth control pills which can help to reduce acne. Some people genetically have more oily skin and develop more pimples.
Eating chocolate or greasy foods may cause some people to break out, but studies haven’t proven that eating chocolate or high-fat foods increases the risk of acne. Using oil-based skin products or cosmetics can make acne worse. Use skin products that don’t clog your pores. They will commonly be labeled “noncomedogenic”.
Acne can run in families. If one of your parents had severe acne, you are more likely to have it.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of acne include whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. These can occur on the face, neck, shoulders, back, or chest. Pimples that are large and deep are called cystic lesions. These can be painful if they get infected. They also can scar the skin.
How is acne treated?
To help control acne, keep your skin clean. Avoid skin products that clog your pores. Look for products that say “noncomedogenic” on the label. Wash your skin once or twice a day with a gentle soap or acne wash. Try not to scrub or pick at your pimples. This can make them worse and can cause scars.
If you have just a few pimples to treat, you can get an acne cream without a prescription. Look for one that has benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These work best when used just the way the label says. salicylic acid helps unclog pores to resolve and prevent lesions but must be used on a regular basis. Once stopped, its effect will stop and the acne may return.
If you have an annoying visible pimple, we may be able to provide quick relief by injecting a steroid medication into the pimple that can help to bring it to resolution just before an important event. Keep in mind there is a small risk that injection of the steroid may result in a small dimple at the injection site that may need to be corrected.
It can take time to get acne under control. But if you haven’t had good results with nonprescription products after trying them for 3 months, make an appointment with the doctors at Dagan MD NYC. A prescription gel or skin cream may be all you need. If you are a woman, taking certain birth control pills may help.
What can I do about Acne Scars?
Very commonly acne will resolve without a trace if treated appropriately and left untouched. But in other cases, acne can result in deforming craters in the skin. Sometimes, only one crater serves a reminder of a stubborn pimple and other times severe acne can leave the facial skin filled with ugly pock marks that are very challenging to hide with makeup.
The treatment of acne scars depends on the extent, severity and depth of the scars. We can treat certain acne scars with a microneedling device. This entails numbing the skin with a numbing cream and using a special handheld device that contains very thin needles that vibrate back and forth and create a very controlled injury over the acne scar to force the skin to heal the scar and minimize the crater. To find out more about microneedling, read about our special facial treatments here.
Another way in which we treat acne scars is using cosmetic fillers. Fillers can be injected underneath the surface of the acne scar to level the surface and remove the undesired blemish. To read more about cosmetic fillers, click on the link.