Acne is the most common skin condition in the US, plaguing men & women, teens, adults and sometimes even babies! As we have pretty much all experienced it (some of us still do!), I don’t have to go into a lot of detail about it, so let me give you a quick overview of what causes acne and then go right into helpful tips for you guys.
What is acne?
Acne occurs when dead skin clogs your pores, and then when the body makes sebum (oil) to keep your skin from drying out, it gets clogged by the dead skin cells. The oil then causes these dead skin cells stick together inside the pore. Sometimes, bacteria that naturally live on our skin (p. acnes) also get into these clogged pores, causing inflammation. The inflammation makes the skin red & swollen, then an acne cyst or bump appears.
What can you do about it?
Most mild acne (just a few pimples, blackheads or whiteheads) will clear up with time. There isn’t really a “quick fix” for acne, unfortunately. Be wary of products promising to clear skin overnight. How can you help skin to clear up?
- Use products with salicylic acid, glycolic acid or benzoyl perozide. These ingredients help to clear your skin by reducing swelling & redness of the skin and also unplugging blocked pores. You can find products with these ingredients easily over the counter, typically as cleansers (including our Bella Derma Gly-Sal Cleanser) or as a separate cream or serum (such as the Effaclar Duo by La Roche-Posay)
- Wash your face as soon after exercising as possible. This will help to clear out your pores that may have collected additional bacteria and sweat from your work-out
- Don’t overwash your face! Wash your face once or twice a day (AND after sweating or working out), but not more than that. Overwashing can actually cause your cells to produce more oil because the multiple washings keep drying your face out.
- Be gentle with your skin. Unless advised by your dermatologist, avoid exfoliants which can irritate the already inflamed skin.
- Moisturize your skin! Many people with acne don’t moisturize their skin because they fear that adding lotion to the skin that’s already too oily will make things worse. That’s not the case! If you skip the moisturizer, your skin cells sense that your skin is dry, and produces MORE oil! Look for a moisturizer that is oil-free and non-comedogenic.
- Wash your hair regularly if you have oily hair or use a lot of hair gel or other product. This can then get into your pores and aggravate the situation
- Avoid too much sun exposure or tanning. Certain active ingredients in acne products can make your skin more sensitive to UV light. Tanning or sunburns then further irritate the skin
- Try, try, try not to pick! It’s hard I know. But picking can spread the bacteria further under your skin, and cause scarring which can be permanent.
If your acne is more severe or you have been doing the above for a few weeks and the acne is still hanging around, it may be a good idea to see your dermatologist for further treatment. From there, the treatment will depend on your specific case.
Something that works for your neighbor’s acne may not work for yours, but a few options are:
- Prescription medication. While you can get a variety of acne medications OTC, there are often prescription-strength versions that you can only get when prescribed by a doctor. There are also different chemical ingredients available that can help with moderate to severe cases of acne, but they must be used under a doctor’s supervision.
- Chemical Peels. Your dermatologist has chemical peels, such as salicylic acid peels, that can more deeply penetrate your skin and help to clear out those pustules. Milder versions are sometimes available OTC, but we would recommend having a dermatologist do your peel because they can best adjust the peel’s strength to your skin and make sure that your skin does not get worse (which often happens when people try to do these types of things on their own). Peels are also great after your skin has cleared to help flush out the dead skin cells that could lead to future acne. See the chemical peels that we offer at Beverly Dermatology here.
- Oral medications. There are some oral pills that can help with acne that are available as prescriptions.
If you have acne concerns, give us a call today at 949-831-3057! Alisa Wang, our PA, specializes in acne treatments and can help your skin to be beautiful & clear!
As a quick note – if you no longer have acne, but you do have the scars, there are treatments that we do in our office that can help, such as chemical peels and IPL treatments
Find out more on AcneNet by the AAD