Acne is a skin problem frequently treated in our Toronto dermatology office. This condition involves whiteheads and blackheads that result from clogged pores. In some cases, nodules and cysts may also develop deeper in the skin. Acne may occur on various areas of the body, including the face, neck, shoulders, chest, upper arms, and back. While it is true that teenagers are at the greatest risk for acne, and may experience this troublesome condition to varying degrees, it is also possible for an adult (usually a woman) to suffer breakouts.
Severe acne can not only cause a great deal of emotional distress, it can be disfiguring. Without proper care, acne may leave permanent scars on the skin. To avoid this problem, it is important to seek treatment for acne that does not quickly respond to over-the-counter solutions. Pimples should not be squeezed, picked, or popped, as this may cause increased redness and swelling in addition to a risk of scarring.
Kinds of acne and its formation
Acne is the result of four key issues in the skin. These are bacteria, clogged pores, excess oil, and inflammation. Both males and females produce testosterone, a hormone that increases in adolescence. As a result of excess testosterone, the sebacious oil glands in the skin enlarge and begin to produce oil. Pores in the skin may become clogged due to genetic or environmental factors, leading to the formation of whiteheads, called comedones as well as blackheads, called open comedones. Oil in pores feeds bacteria, which secrete by-products that cause inflammation which, in turn, leads to pustules (pimples) and cysts or nodules. Larger cysts may leave scars that last a very long time. Adults may experience acne as a result of oral contraception, menopause, hormone fluctuations, or childbirth.
Cleansing the skin
Contrary to what many believe, poor hygiene is not the primary cause of acne. Adequate cleansing is, however, important. Every day, the skin should be cleansed with warm water and gentle cleanser. Patients of Dermatology on Bloor may be encouraged to use the SkinMedica Sensitive Skin Cleanser or the Alyria Gentle Cleanser for optimal skin health. High quality commercial cleansers like Spectroderm, Toleraine, or Cetaphil may also be recommended. It is important to create balance in the cleansing routine as too much or too aggressive washing can irritate already-inflamed skin.
The ideal scenario for healthy skin is to wear minimal makeup as much as possible. When makeup must be worn, it is best to apply oil-free, water-based cosmetics and moisturizers. Look for products labeled as "non-comedogenic," as these may not be as likely to cause whiteheads or blackheads. Make-up should be removed with a mild cleanser every night. The appearance of blemishes may be minimized with a tinted, medicated lotion. Adequate coverage may also be achieved from a loose powder or oil-free foundation.
Food is not typically a factor in the formation of acne. If you notice, however, that some foods exacerbate acne or inflammation, it is good to avoid them. Some people notice that their acne becomes worse after they consume milk or nuts. These individuals may do best on a low glycemic diet that has minimal sugar and simple starches.
Gaining control of acne takes time. The goal in treating acne is to allow the skin to heal from existing blemishes while, at the same time, minimizing the risk of future breakouts. Time is needed, though, to see improvement in the skin. If, within two to three months, we do not see the desired amount of improvement, we may modify the treatment plan, which always remains in accordance with the severity and type of acne we are treating.
- Some women may find that oral contraceptive medication produces the desired result. In some cases, prescriptions for birth control are written for this sole purpose.
- Oral antibiotics such as erythromycin, doxycycline, tetracycline, or minocycline may be prescribed.
- Isotretinoin medications like Accutane or Clarus may be used for unresponsive or severe acne. Patients are advised of the adverse side effects of this drug and are closely monitored in frequent appointments. Pregnancy must be prevented throughout this course of treatment due to the risk of birth defects as a side effect of this drug.
- It is important to tell your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to conceive and also if you are nursing if you are being treated for acne. Any type of medication, event those applied to the skin, may have side effects.
- Various topical solutions may be prescribed to unclog pores and reduce bacteria on the skin. Formulations may include antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, gentle acids, or vitamin A and may cause mild peeling. Only a pea-sized amount is needed for each application.
- Microdermabrasion is a treatment that gently removes the uppermost layers of cells from the skin. With this treatment, it is possible to improve skin texture, minimize irregularities, and promote the growth of new skin cells. WE DO NOT OFFER OR PROMOTE
- Light chemical peels containing gentle ingredients like salicylic or glycolic acids can unclog pores and promote new cell growth.
- Light therapy involving blue light may be performed with or without topical acne medication.
- Corticosteroid medication may be injected into the skin to reduce large nodules or lumps and facilitate faster healing.
Treatment options are recommended only after a thorough consultation and evaluation of the skin. Some of the factors considered in planning care are the type and severity of acne as well as the age and gender of the patient.
We are pleased to offer Isolaz Acne Light Treatment in our Toronto office. Discover what this in-office treatment can do for you here
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Treatments for acne scarring
Several treatment options exist for the different types of acne and acne scarring. Chemical peels, electrosurgery, fractionated laser treatments and laser dermabrasion are all options to be considered. If "pitted" scars are present, it may be possible to lift them with dermal fillers.
We put academic qualifications, many years of combined experience, and training in a variety of special interest areas to work for your healthy, radiant skin. Our providers – Drs. Schachter, Hanna, Curtis, Abdulla, Pollack, and Taradash – welcome new patients for treatment at the Dermatology on Bloor practice on Park Road in Toronto. Our team is here to serve your needs
FAQ on Acne
What Causes Acne?
Your skin has thousands of oil glands that produce sebum to moisturize and help the skin act as a protective barrier. Sebum within each oil gland is carried to the skin's surface through pores. The highest density of oil glands is found on your face, especially the nose, forehead and mid-cheek area. The largest oil glands are found on your back and mid-chest. This explains in part why acne appears mostly on the face, chest and back.
What actually causes acne is still unknown. Hormones may play a role in pore blockage and increased oil production. Unfortunately, you may still inherit acne-prone skin, particularly the type associated with more severe, scarring forms of the condition.
Is Acne Contagious?
No, acne is not contagious.
Does Someone Get Acne Because Their Face is Dirty?
If you ave acne, it does not mean that your face is dirty. Cleansing and scrubbing your skin excessively will not help your acne. In Fact. it may make it worse. Remember, the causes of acne affect the oil glands, which are well below the surface of the skin.
Who Get's Acne?
More than 85% of teenagers get acne, but anyone can get it, including adults.
Where Does Acne Develop?
You can have acne on any part of your skin where sebaceous glands are found. These are the glands that produce oil for the skin. Acne can appear on the face, chest, and back, and even on the arms and thighs.
What is Severe Acne?
Severe acne is when many red, swollen, tender lumps form under the skin.
What is Persistent Acne?
Persistent acne, also know as recalcitrant acne, is acne that is resistant to oral antibiotics or topical antibiotic lotions, creams or gels.
What Can Make Acne Worse?
The most common things that can aggravate your acne are cleansing to frequently and squeezing, picking, or popping zits. Excessive cleansing, particularly the overzealous use of abrasive facial scrubs can irritate your skin and worsen inflammation.
The Sun Seems To Help My Acne
While it is true that sun exposure may dry out existing acne, it won't prevent new outbreaks. For some people, the sun can make their acne worse, and some acne medications can make your skin sensitive to the sun, leading to serious sunburns. Dr's Schachter, Hanna and Curtis recommend daily use of SPF30 or higher, all year round.
Can I Use Make-Up To Camouflage My Acne?
Yes. The best types of cosmetics to use for acne-prone skin are oil-free, non-comedogenic, and non-acnegenic.