Adults with Persistent Acne at High Risk of Scarring

Adults with Persistent Acne at Risk of Scarring | Spectrum Dermatology

Adults with Persistent Acne at High Risk of Scarring

Acne is so common that a lot of people don’t consider it a medical condition—even though it is. There are many types of acne, some of them more severe than others (like cystic acne), and we treat all types of acne as well as acne scarring at Spectrum Dermatology. However, preventing acne scarring in the first place should be a top priority so you can avoid acne scarring treatments in the future. A recent study in Cutis found that the way in which adolescents treat acne plays a role in acne scarring when the acne persists into adulthood. Isotretinoin and topical retinoids are preferable over antibiotics for this demographic, according to the researchers.

“Persistent adult acne” is acne that either continues or reappears after your teen years. “Late-onset acne,” or acne that doesn’t appear until someone has passed their teen years largely acne-free, can be particularly difficult to treat without the help of a dermatologist. Compared to the skin of teens, adult skin is more sensitive to topical agents and at a higher risk of scarring.

Phoenix Acne Treatments that Work

Both oral and topical retinoids have been prescribed by dermatologists for years, and are proven to be very effective acne treatment. They have an anti-inflammatory agent that does a great job of fighting comedones (a typical form of acne). The American Academy of Dermatology guidelines supports the use of retinoids, stating that these drugs can be critical in acne treatment.

The latest Cutis study further supported the use of retinoids for acne therapy, and participants included 111 patients (mostly women). These patients, ages 25+, visited a dermatologist from 2015 – 2016. Most patients were in their 30s, though there were 20 patients in their late 20s and 30 patients 40+. The majority of patients (91) were diagnosed with persistent acne and most described their acne as severe. Of the participants, 44% did not undergo any acne treatment as a teen that involved antibiotics, isotretinoin, or topical retinoids.

The Reality of Treating Acne

In total, 80.22% of the study’s participants who had persistent adult acne also didn’t use topical retinoids as a teen and also did not undergo acne maintenance therapy. Researchers suggest this is because there weren’t mandated recommendations for retinoid therapy when these (now adult) patients were teens. Most of the patients did undergo antibiotic treatments, and only one participant with late-onset adult acne was never given oral antibiotics, topical retinoids, or an isotretinoin treatment.

Researchers found acne scarring in 53.85% of participants who had persistent adult acne. The participants’ risk of scarring was highly tied to the type and amount of acne treatment they had as a teen. According to the study authors, “We found that using oral antibiotics did not diminish the number of scars among persistent adult acne patients in adulthood. In contrast, isotretinoin or topical retinoid treatment during adolescence decreased the risk for scars occurring during adulthood.” As such, the researchers encourage parents of adolescents to talk to their dermatologist about isotretinoin or topical retinoid acne treatment to reduce the risk of scarring.

Oral isotretinoin isn’t usually prescribed for those with less severe acne, even when it’s chronic. However, one of the researchers suggests talking to your dermatologist about using smaller doses for over a year as a possible effective means of controlling acne and minimizing scarring risk. Topical retinoid maintenance therapy also isn’t common, but researchers found that it’s best to continue use for up to two years post-oral treatment to further reduce scarring risks.

Your Personalized Acne Treatment in Phoenix

As any parent of a teen knows, it can be difficult to help adolescents understand the importance of properly treating their acne. This is especially true for teens who are irritated by retinoids (a common side effect). The researchers say, “adolescent patients expect topical treatment to be smooth and pleasant … they need an explanation about the role of comedones.” Teens are preoccupied with inflammation that can happen with topical treatments and don’t always understand the lifelong risks of acne scarring that can happen without proper treatment.

Every acne treatment is unique and should be personalized to the patient, but backed with the latest research. If your teen is struggling with acne, or if you have acne scarring, options are available. Contact Spectrum Dermatology at (480) 948-8400 and schedule your acne consultation today.