Acne is one of the most common skin conditions worldwide. It can affect anyone but is most common in the adolescent population. It is also fairly common in adults. Severe acne can leave permanent scarring. We can customize the treatment of acne for each individual. We treat acne with oral and topical medications, chemical peels, lasers, and light devices. There are multiple lasers that can be used to treat acne scars.
What causes acne?
Acne is one of the rites of passage for just about every teenager. Despite its prevalence, the causes of acne are not fully understood. In fact, there is a good deal of misinformation and misunderstanding about what causes acne.
It is thought to be caused by a combination of factors. First and foremost is the rise in the male sex hormone androgen in teens of both sexes during puberty. When androgen levels rise, the sebaceous glands enlarge and produce more oil. These glands produce oil normally to keep our skin and hair from drying out. But during puberty, the glands overproduce, and the oil can’t be dispersed fast enough. This causes the glands to clog. P. acnes bacteria are common in the hair follicles and the sebaceous glands, but when the glands clog, the bacteria multiply. This causes inflammation, which in the acne world means a breakout. Different people seem to be more sensitive to this inflammation than others — rising sebum levels in one person may cause a pimple or two, but it becomes a full outbreak in someone else.
There also seems to be a genetic role in acne, especially more extreme cases. The hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy have similar effects on sebaceous gland oil production and corresponding acne. In some people, certain types of medications contribute to breakouts. For athletes, chin guards and helmets lead to friction and heat that causes a different type of acne known as acne mechanica.
When should I see a dermatologist for acne treatment?
Most acne is a nuisance and does not create scarring. But for a teen, acne can have a real impact on their self-confidence. And this is a time when teens are trying to learn how to be more confident and make their own decisions. That’s why it’s never a good idea to simply let your teenager’s acne run its course. Plus, cystic acne does create permanent scarring.
The acne treatments of even just 20 years ago were fueled by a true lack of understanding. It was thought that drying the skin out was a way to improve acne. It was thought that using scrubs and the like were effective treatments. Now we know those kinds of treatments actually make acne worse, as they further inflame the already inflamed skin.
Today, Dr. Khatri offers much more effective treatments that actually go after the root cause of acne, the clogged sebaceous glands and the p. acnes bacteria in them. Our NeoClear laser treatments dramatically lower the bacteria proliferating in the clogged sebaceous glands. They also work to reduce the sebum production in those glands to keep them from clogging moving forward.
If your teen is hating the way his or her face is looking due to acne, that makes this the perfect time to come see Dr. Khatri and our team at Skin & Laser Surgery Center.
Do acne breakouts mean I’m not keeping my face clean enough?
Former acne treatments stressed cleaning the face numerous times daily, as it was assumed this would keep the skin dry and lessen proliferation of oils. Research has since shown that acne development has nothing to do with how clean the person’s skin is. That’s because this has no effect on the overproduction of sebum that clogs the sebaceous glands. This is one of those former beliefs about acne that have since been discredited.
Can what I eat cause acne?
If you’re older, you can recall when you had acne hearing these tidbits of advice:
“Don’t eat chocolate. That will cause a breakout!”
“You can’t eat those greasy potato chips. Think what that’ll do to your acne.”
Nope. Extensive clinical research has looked for any association with food and acne, and it has not found any. This is probably the most prevalent wives’ tale/misconception about how and why acne forms.
Does the makeup I use cause acne?
This is another myth. While some types of cosmetics can irritate the skin and worsen a breakout, that has nothing to do with the development of the acne. It’s simply a bad type of makeup or a bad mix for your particular skin type. It is true that you need to match the type of makeup you use to your skin type. It’s not true, however, that makeup in any way leads to acne development.
What are some things I’m doing that can exacerbate my acne?
- Popping your zits — This actually increases the time the inflamed area takes to heal, and it can create a single scar.
- Not washing off your makeup — Leaving makeup on your skin further clogs your pores, which leads to more acne.
- Not washing after exercise — If you don’t wash your face after a workout, this leads to bacteria buildup, which your pores are already doing well enough on their own.
- Over washing your skin — It seems like a good idea, but it’s not. This can dry your skin out, making the situation worse.
- Sleeping on a dirty pillowcase — If you’re in the acne-prone times, you should change your pillowcase more frequently, as it can be a gathering place for bacteria.
- Using dirty makeup brushes — Dirty makeup brushes transfer bacteria right to your skin, so you need to keep them clean.
- Wearing dirty hats — Young people love to wear beanies during our cold New England weather, but if the hat is dirty that ads bacteria to the skin. The same is true with chin straps on sports helmets. Use rubbing alcohol to keep those clean from bacteria, which loves the heat and perspiration for breeding.
- Touching your face — Touching your face spreads existing p. acnes bacteria, and there’s already enough of it multiplying in your pores.
The NeoClear by Aerolase® Acne Treatment offers patients of all ages and skin types a new safe, effective, and tolerable treatment for acne using advanced 650-microsecond technology. NeoClear is a powerful acne treatment that eliminates the major factors causing acne including excess sebum production, inflammation, and the p. acnes bacteria. NeoClear treatments typically take between 10-30 minutes depending on the severity of acne and the size of the area affected (face, neck, chest, torso). The unique settings of the 650-microsecond device allow energy to penetrate deeply into the skin within a highly safe and tolerable pulse to reduce sebum production, suppress inflammation, and destroy the p. acnes bacteria to help clear current acne breakouts and to stop them in the future. Also, the deep heating energy helps build collagen, which can reduce the appearance of acne scars and leave skin looking radiant. NeoClear is highly safe, effective, and tolerable for all skin types, all ages, and all types of acne.
Depending upon the color, texture, and age of acne scars, several different lasers can be used to improve scars. There is no treatment available at the present time that can remove the scars completely, but they can be improved.