Acne doesn’t just trigger unsightly bumps and redness on the skin, it can also be a source of frustration and insecurity for those who suffer from the effects of one of the most common skin conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. Demystifying acne begins with understanding the causes and effective treatments. Formation of pimples, blackheads and whiteheads comes from a variety of sources including excess sebum production, clogged follicles, bacterial infection, inflammation, hormonal changes, genetics, dietary habits and stress. Because any single or combination of these factors can cause acne, it’s important to evaluate your lifestyle and share as much information as possible with your dermatologist.

The sebaceous glands produce sebum, an oil-like substance that naturally lubricates the skin. An excess of sebum combined with dead skin cells can clog pores causing blemishes. Hormonal spikes, especially during adolescence, can stimulate an overproduction of sebum causing clogged pores. Dead skin cells accumulate and mix with the excess sebum plugging up the hair follicles where bacteria can thrive. Bacterial overgrowth triggers an inflammatory response leading to the redness and swelling associated with skin lesions like acne. Inflammation from other sources like diet, stress and hormones can exacerbate existing acne as well as triggering new breakouts. Family history plays a significant role in the development of acne even more so than environmental impacts. In fact, genetic variations account for 50-90% of individuals affected by acne. While the link between what you eat and acne is still undetermined, refined sugars and dairy have been known to wreak havoc on the skin not only causing or worsening acne but also premature aging like fine lines and sagging of the skin. Managing chronic stress can take its toll for many leading to coping mechanisms of touching or picking at the face, aggravating acne.

Effective treatments include a variety of ongoing solutions such as topical treatments, oral medications, lifestyle changes and dermatological procedures. Topical treatments that are most effective are benzoyl peroxide for killing bacteria and unclogging pores, salicylic acid for exfoliating the skin and preventing the formation of comedones and retinoids that promote cell turnover and improvement of the skin. Oral medication like antibiotics that help control bacterial infections and hormonal therapies such as birth control pills or anti-androgen medications may be prescribed to regulate hormones. Lifestyle changes may prove to be the most effective by incorporating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and omeg-a3 fatty acids while reducing processed foods. Hydration is also key, be sure to drink plenty of water to hydrate the skin and flush away toxins. Hygiene practices with quality products to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize the skin are a healthy addition to improved nutrition. Practice stress-reducing activities like adequate sleep, meditation, yoga and deep-breathing exercises. Lastly, scheduling in-office medical grade procedures with your dermatologist will make a dramatic difference in the quality of your skin. Chemical peels, laser therapy and extraction methods can target and eliminate acne.

While there is no one-size-fits-all fix for acne, combining proper skincare, lifestyle adjustments and medical interventions can do wonders for the skin. Consulting with a dermatologist at THE CENTER for Advanced Dermatology will provide you with the opportunity to receive personalized advice for your specific skin concerns. Call 602-867-7546 or visit WEBSITE for more information.