All About Acne

What is Acne? 

Acne is a skin condition consisting of a collection of different skin impurities. Acne is most common in adolescents as the hormone changes and imbalances they experience during puberty can cause excess oil production, irritated skin, and pimples. Acne can also be prevalent among adults. Adult acne is primarily due to hormonal imbalances, certain medications, and skin types and textures. 

Acne, while not a life-threatening condition, is a serious condition if not properly managed. Improper care of pimples and blackheads can lead to permanent scarring and potentially, an increase in breakouts. Establishing a daily skin care routine can help manage your oil levels and keep your skin clean and clear from unwanted blemishes. 

While acne is a common skin condition, there are a number of different types of acne that range in levels of severity. Cystic acne is the most severe form of acne and is caused by a buildup of oil and dead skin cells that clog pores. These pores cause pain and lead to serious inflammation and infection. Hormonal acne is a milder and more common form of acne, more prevalent in teenagers, but can affect children and adults of any age. Hormonal acne is caused by a disturbance or imbalance in the body’s androgen levels. Androgen hormones, such as testosterone, plays an important role during puberty. When these levels rise too high, excess oil is produced and secreted out of the body, clogging pores and thus, causing breakouts. 

Acne comes in many forms including blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, cysts, and nodules. Whiteheads and blackheads are essentially the same thing – dirt that has built up inside a pore. However, there are two major differences between the two: whiteheads have a white appearance and are closed pores while blackheads have a black appearance and are open pores, meaning the dirt and oil can be pushed and cleaned out. Papules, pustules and nodules are all various forms of pimples, ranging in size, appearance and level of pain. 

How to Treat Acne

Since acne is so common, there are a multitude of treatment options available. Ranging from basic facial cleansers to treatments to medications, there is an option to fit anyone’s level of acne, lifestyle and budget. 

  1. Facial cleansers. Daily face washes and scrubs are available at your local drug store. When choosing a cleanser, be sure to consider the ingredients. While most will have similar ingredients, some skin may be more sensitive than others and require a less abrasive or fragrance-free cleanser. 
  2. Treatments. Spots treatments and acid washes are popular treatments. Glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are just some of the add-on treatment options as part of your daily skin care routine. 
  3. Medications. For severe hormonal or cystic acne, oral and topical medications are available to help control and reduce breakouts. 

It’s important to talk with your doctor about what treatment option may be right for you and skin. With so many cleansers, scrubs and treatments available, your primary care physician or dermatologist can help guide you to the right treatment option. While most acne can be controlled with a daily face wash routine, if you notice your acne is painful, inflamed, irritated, infected or uncontrollable, see your doctor right away as it could be related to a more serious condition. 

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