21 Apr Acne: The Most Common Medical Skin Condition
It’s unsurprising that acne ranks as the most common medical skin condition, with the Academy of Dermatology reporting that mild or moderate acne affects up to 50 million Americans. It’s so common that a lot of people think it’s “just” a cosmetic concern, but that’s not the case. Just because a condition is very common doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve treatment. Although acne often begins in puberty with nearly every teenager experiencing some degree of acne during these years, it also affects one in five adults 25 – 44 years old.
Acne is very prevalent in teens because hormone fluctuations are a key trigger for acne. Hormone fluctuations can cause an overproduction of oil on the skin, and that (combined with dead skin cells) can clog hair follicles and pores. This creates the perfect environment for bacteria that causes acne symptoms to appear. However, hormones and the resultant oil aren’t the only acne instigators. Genetics, stress, skin care quality, and environmental factors also play a role. For example, a dirty cell phone or pillowcase can trigger or worsen acne breakouts.
Types of Acne
There are many types of acne, ranging from the mild blackheads and whiteheads to deep cysts that can cause permanent scarring. Almost everyone has had a blackhead and/or whitehead in their life. These are little bumps caused by the combination of oil and skin cells, which results in blocked pores. Next are pustules and papules, which are bigger bumps that happen when those blocked pores get irritated. These are the painful bumps that feel hard and tender. A pustule can look like a whitehead, but it usually has a red base and is capped with a pus-filled lesion.
Finally, there are nodules and cysts. These are very big, hard, and painful. The difference between these two is that cysts are filled with pus, while nodules are not. It is important to see a dermatologist for any type of acne, but especially severe acne that presents with nodules and cysts. These lesions might not go away on their own, they are very painful, and they are so noticeable that they can cause a severe knock to your self-confidence and self-esteem. Medical help is available for all types of acne.
Washing your face more often will not necessarily clear your acne (though washing items that your face often touches, such as a yoga mat, may help). In fact, over-washing and over-exfoliating your face can actually make acne symptoms worse. It causes dryness, which tells your body to make even more oil. Over-doing DIY or store-bought acne products can also be problematic. A good regimen should be provided to you by a dermatologist and will normally include a simple cleanser, medication, and moisturizer.
Your dermatologist can also help you identify the real triggers behind your breakouts to more comprehensively address your acne. This may begin with de-bunking myths, including that certain foods “cause” acne. A healthy diet is imperative for healthy skin, but the occasional chocolate bar or pizza does not cause acne. You might also be triggering acne with certain products, such as makeup with mineral oils. If you’re applying anything to your face or hair with oil, that might be aggravating your breakouts.
Getting Acne Under Control
Acne is a medical condition that requires dermatological treatment, but there are also lingering effects of acne such as scarring and hyperpigmentation. These cosmetic concerns are valid and can often be treated with in-office procedures such as laser or light therapy, or perhaps a chemical peel. It is not uncommon to approach acne with a strategy of stopping and preventing acne breakouts while also addressing the cosmetic concerns lingering from past breakouts.
Acne does not have to be part of you at any point in your life. The earlier you start getting your acne under control with the help of a dermatologist, the better you can prevent hyperpigmentation, scarring, and of course the emotional and sometimes physical pangs associated with acne.
The best acne treatments are medical-grade and only available from your dermatologist. Let’s get started today, working together to get your acne in check. Contact Spectrum Dermatology today via our online system or by calling the office directly.