Acne is a common medical disorder which is mostly treatable. It might require an extensive treatment in some cases to clear the unattractive spots. Enlarged acne needs to be treated with care so as to prevent scarring. Even after the spots are removed you might be required to continue the treatment for a longer duration in order to prevent its recurrence.
There are four main causes of acne, namely:
- Blocked skin pores
- Dead skin cells
- Oil excretion
Acne is generally seen more on the face, neck, back and chest along with the shoulders. These are sebaceous (oily) skin areas in the body as they contain more of oil glands. The main cause for the development of acne is the blocking of a hair follicles by dead skin cells or excessive oil.
Our hair follicles are connected to the oil glands under the skin. The sebum (oil) excreted from these glands helps in naturally lubricating the skin and the hair on it. However, when the oil glands produce excess sebum then this extra oil and the dead skin cells make a blockage in the skin pore of the hair follicle. This creates an ideal situation for bacterial infection, causing inflammation.
The blocked skin pore also results in the hair follicle to become inflamed which produces a whitehead. In case the blocked pore is closer to the pore then it develops into a blackhead.
Pimples are also a type of acne which are normally seen as swollen reddish spots that usually have a white center, which has an inflamed or infected hair follicle pore.
Risk factors of Acne
These are the commonly known factors that may make you more vulnerable to develop acne:
- Stress – Studies have shown an increase in the severity of acne during a stressful period.
- Dietary habits – Research has shown that there are various dietary factors (such as carbohydrate-rich and dairy products) such as chips and bagels that may trigger an acne outburst. Chocolate has also been proven to increase the severity of acne.
- Medicinal drugs – There are certain medications (including lithium, androgen and corticosteroids) that are known to increase acne in a person.
- Hormonal changes – An increase in the release of androgen in the body (during puberty in boys and girls, pregnancy in women, using of oral contraceptives and lowered androgen in women) also causes the body to release more oil from the sebaceous glands, which ultimately results in more acne.
With the great advances in medical science it is now possible to control acne as well as reduce and remove its scars. There are several medications that help in treatment of acne.
An experienced dermatologist can help:
- Control acne
- Avoid damage to skin
- Make scarring less visible
The main function of these acne medicines is to decrease the production of sebum (skin oil), hastening the skin cell turnover process, fight bacterial infection as well as help in reducing the swelling to prevent scarring.
The type of medicinal drug to treat your acne depends on the type of acne as well as its severity. Topical medication and oral medication are available to treat acne effectively.
Topical treatment for Acne
These are medicinal products that are meant to be applied on the skin. Most of these are in the gel or cream (ointment) form which tend to dry up within 15 minutes of applying. These are slow but steady working medicines that show results within the first few weeks. In case you notice peeling, dryness or redness in the skin after starting the treatment, do not panic as this is a normal event. Consult your dermatologist immediately so they can help you fight the unwanted side-effects.
The most common forms of topical medicines for acne treatment are:
- Antibiotics – These function mainly by fighting bacteria and decreasing the redness. In the first few months of starting the treatment, you may also be required to combine an antibiotic topical medicine with a retinoid, both being applied alternatively in the morning and the other at night.
- Retinoids – These are usually in the gel, lotion or cream form. These medicines are extracted from natural Vitamin A and have tretinoin, tazarotene and adapalene in them. This medicine works mainly by prevention of blockage in the hair follicles.
Oral treatment for Acne
These are the most commonly used oral medications for the treatment of acne:
- Antibiotics – These are mainly used in case the acne is from mild to severe. These drugs help to reduce inflammation and fight bacterial infection. At times, the dermatologist might also recommend the use of a combination of a topical as well as an oral medication for more effective and better results.
- Oral contraceptives – Combined oral contraceptives are found to work in effectively fighting acne in adolescent girls and women.
- Anti-Androgen Drugs – Spironolactone is a drug which is effective in reducing and preventing acne in adolescent girls and women if combined oral contraceptives are unsuccessful in its treatment. This works by halting the effects of androgen on the oil glands in the skin (sebaceous glands).
These therapies are selected for cases when required alone, or in combination with a medication, for effectively treating acne:
- Light therapy – There are various types of light therapies that have been successful in decreasing acne. Mainly the light is targeted at the bacteria which are destroyed using that particular light.
- Chemical peel – This procedure involves repeatedly applying chemical solutions (mostly salicylic acid) in combination with other acne treatment methods in order to improve the acne treatment.
- Steroid injections – These are most helpful in treating cystic and nodular lesions. Their appearance improves significantly when steroid is injected directly into them and there is no need for extraction after that.
Choosing the right dermatologist can mean the difference between the success and failure of your acne treatment. So it is advised to consult dermatologists who are highly-trained and have a considerable experience in treatment of acne successfully.