Choosing the right acne treatment options for your skin
An estimated 60 million Americans have acne, many due to genetic predisposition. Twenty percent of them severe enough to cause scarring. This common skin condition affects both genders, all age groups, and every ethnicity. In the United States, more than $100 million is spent annually on over-the-counter products to address acne. That is a lot of money for acne treatment options that probably do not generate satisfactory results. Montclair, NJ dermatologist, Dr. Jeanine Downie, shares this helpful advice on choosing wisely.
You might not realize it, but most of the skin on your body is covered with hair – only your lips, palms, and soles of feet are exempt. Each hair grows from a pore containing a follicle. The follicle is a tiny sheath of connective tissues and more than 20 kinds of cells. This dynamic organ regulates hair growth with hormones, immune cells, and neuropeptides.
When too much sebum, an oily secretion, is produced, it traps dead skin cells. That blocks the follicle. About 1,000 species of bacteria live on skin. Some, particularly Propionibacterium acnes bacteria, flourish in this oily environment. The resulting acidic build-up triggers an inflammatory response. Sometimes secretions accumulate without causing an inflamed pimple, pustule, or cyst – rather, creating an unsightly whitehead or blackhead.
Hormonal fluctuations are a big factor in outbreaks, since hormones are part of the sebum producing cycle. Thus, anything that causes a spike or dip in hormone production, may trigger an acne flare-up:
- Certain medical condition, medications, and therapies
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External conditions that cause excess perspiration, irritate skin, or clog pores may also worsen acne.
Start with professional skin analysis
There are thousands of identified skin conditions, and acne can mimic many of them. The first step to clear skin is to understand what you are treating. Only a Board-certified dermatologist has extensive training and clinical experience in this focused area of medicine.
A professional evaluation:
- Rules out other skin conditions
- Delves into possible underlying medical issues causing breakouts
- Identifies and classifies your skin type according to the established Fitzpatrick scale
- Takes into consideration your unique lifestyle habits such as diet, exercise, hydration, home and work environment, stress levels, hobbies, use of tobacco and alcohol, hygiene, and cosmetics
This comprehensive analysis is necessary to determine which medications, modalities, and techniques will clear acne most effectively, without harming skin.
Montclair, NJ dermatologist offers acne treatment options
Dr. Downie’s compassion for acne patients arises from her own difficult experience at ages 11 through 27. That significant acne condition contributed to her career choice as a dermatologist, and she remains sympathetic to those with one pimple or many. (By the way, Dr. Downie still works to keep her own acne under control for a healthy complexion.)
At image Dermatology ® P.C., acne treatment is never one-size-fits-all. Each patient receives a tailored skin-clearing strategy. It may include one or a combination of in-office treatments:
- Antibiotics – Infection is one aspect of an acne breakout. Topical antibiotics destroy P. acnes bacteria, healing minor infection, reducing redness, and helping to open pores. Dr. Downie may prescribe topical antibiotics alone, or along with retinoids. Oral antibiotics are appropriate for moderate to severe acne. They work internally to reduce bacterial population and calm inflammation.
- Retinoids – These creams, lotions, and gels contain an active ingredient derived from Vitamin A. Medication is applied topically, according to a personalized schedule, to keep sebaceous glands from clogging.
- Other topical medications – Benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and azelaic acid also have antibacterial properties. If you are pregnant, it is especially important to seek professional guidance before using these products – even retail varieties.
- Extraction – Picking or squeezing aggravates inflammation and transfers germs from hands to open pimples. That may lead to permanent scars. Dr. Downie uses sterile clinical instruments and gentle techniques to safely drain cysts and remove blackheads.
- Non- or minimally-invasive skin rejuvenation – It is never too late to improve the appearance of acne scarring. The doctor may prescribe a series of chemical peels to lighten discoloration from acne, or laser therapy to smooth deeper pits and surface irregularities. These treatments also help to get your complexion into peak condition.
Developing a home care routine to maintain clear skin
When you become an image Dermatology ® P.C. patient, your care does not end when your appointment is over. You leave with information on high-quality skin care products, including daily sunblock to reduce discolored scarring from acne. With the right daily routine, your complexion can stay healthy and free of blemishes.