Finding out that acne can persist as an adult is an unfortunate milestone for many teens. Acne is the most common skin complaint around the world, and, although it’s especially prevalent in teens, it can happen to anyone of any age. Hormone fluctuations are a major cause of acne, which is why it is so common in teenage years. However, bacteria, genetics, and continued hormone changes throughout life can all cause or increase acne breakouts. There are also various types of acne, which is why it is important to have your skin and acne complaints evaluated by professionals. At Spectrum Dermatology, we will work with you to customize the right acne treatment plan.
Acne can, unfortunately, come in many forms. The most common types include whiteheads, blackheads, “pimples” (also known as pustules), papules, and cysts. Every type of acne will require a different treatment option, which is why working with a dermatologist is key. The faster acne is correctly addressed, the lower the odds of permanent skin complications such as hyperpigmentation and scarring. However, if past acne has already caused dark spots or scarring, don’t worry. Spectrum Dermatology has cosmetic treatments, including laser therapy, to treat even the most stubborn of lingering blemishes.
The types of acne fall into inflammatory or non-inflammatory. Non-inflammatory does not cause inflammation in the surrounding area. The two types of non-inflammatory acne are whiteheads and blackheads. They are also the mildest form of acne and easiest to treat. This type of acne usually is not painful, but it can be embarrassing.
Whiteheads, or “comedones,” are typically small and circular. They may be circled by redness, but this is not classic inflammation. Blackheads, also comedones, can be flat or slightly raised. They are small and dark or black. “Blackheads” might be pores clogged with debris, such as makeup, or they can be whiteheads that have opened and been exposed to air.
Inflammatory acne includes papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts. It is the most severe form of acne and can lead to skin issues like scarring and “pitting.” If acne is very red, swollen, warm, or painful to the touch, it is likely a form of inflammatory acne. Nodules and cysts are the most painful forms of acne. They occur when simpler forms of acne lead to cell and tissue damage deep below the skin’s surface.
There are many factors to consider when diagnosing and treating acne. A person’s family history of acne, diet, amount of natural oil, and hormones can all affect types and degrees of acne. There are also mechanical factors, such as if a person has to wear a helmet or other headgear on a regular basis. These factors can be addressed simultaneously with dermatological acne treatments for the fastest, most effective results.
– Linda, Actual Patient*
Acne is often a chronic disorder. When it appears to “go away on its own,” it is usually because a mitigating factor has been naturally addressed. For example, a person may have completed puberty, menopause, or is no longer exposed to the dirty helmet strap from the daily football practice.
Acne can present in many ways, even within the many types of acne. Inflamed or red skin, bumps, lumps, and whiteheads and blackheads are just a few signs of acne.
Anyone can have acne. Men and women of nearly any age can be plagued by acne, and it does not occur only on the face (although that is the most common area). Acne can be found on the back, arms, neck, shoulders, and chest. However, teenagers and those going through other hormonal shifts—such as pregnancy and women going through menopause—are especially vulnerable to acne.
Acne is not technically dangerous, but it can be painful and permanently damage the skin. Decades after teenage acne, adults can suffer severe scarring, pitting, and dark spots. This damage is linked to poor self-confidence, low self-esteem, and depression. For those suffering from acne, it is much larger than “just a blemish.” Acne patients with fairer skin are more prone to visible acne scarring and hyperpigmentation, but a person with any amount of melanin can endure prolonged acne side effects.
Most people first encounter acne in puberty. Everyone has different levels of natural oil, and those with more oil tend to develop more acne. “Teenage acne” often lasts up to ten years, and in some cases it seems to disappear in adulthood. However, that isn’t always the case. Acne tends to be more severe in teenage boys, but women tend to have acne more often than men in their 30s, 40s, and beyond.
There is one upside to those with more oil on their faces. Oil, or sebum, is a natural elixir of youth. Oil is protective, and with the right acne treatment you can enjoy not only clear skin but younger-looking skin for longer.
There are a number of acne treatments ranging in approach and aggressiveness. No matter what type of acne you have, or the severity, know that effective treatment is available. However, it is rarely over the counter. Proper acne treatment both keeps acne in check while minimizing and/or treating side effects such as scarring.
Severe cases of acne may require hormonal acne treatment. Spectrum Dermatology is one of the few local dermatology clinics accredited to prescribe and dispense hormonal acne medications. Certified by the Physician Dispensing Association (PDA), severe acne sufferers often only enjoy relief through aggressive medical treatment. Patients can receive their prescription and medication in a single appointment. Learn more about the accreditation.
Spectrum Dermatology is your local expert for diagnosis and treatment of all types of acne. Schedule your appointment today at (480) 948-8400.