Acne is a skin condition occurring when hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. It usually appears on the face, neck, chest, back and shoulders. Acne can affect any age group – from teenagers, adults in their 20s and adults in their 40s. It is not a life threatening condition but acne can be distressing and annoyingly persistent. In severe cases, acne can lead to serious skin damage and permanent scarring.
Who gets acne?
Almost 100% of teenagers between the age of twelve and seventeen have at least experienced occasional whitehead, blackhead or pimple irrespective of race or ethnicity. Acne usually starts for people of ten to thirteen years of age and the acne lasts for five to ten years. While in some people it goes away on its own in their early twenties, others can persist into the late twenties or thirties or beyond.
As many people are affected by acne, a lot of myths about the skin problem circulate which led many people desperate to get rid of their acne to follow them blindly without realizing that the treatment for each person will depend on a lot of factors like skin type, texture, age, etc. Although these myths seem harmless, some can do serious damage to the skin.
Myth #1: Acne is caused by dirt.
Fact: Acne is not caused by dirt or poor hygiene. No amount of scrubbing with soap and water will remove the acne from your face. On the contrary, constant and hard scrubbing can irritate the skin.
Myth #2: Acne is caused by fatty food, candies, etc.
Fact: Acne is not caused by the food eaten. Nothing has shown any connection between acne and diet.
Myth #3: Acne is no big deal.
Fact: While acne affects the person’s appearance and poses no life-threatening risk to a person’s health, acne can result in permanent physical scars which can affect the person’s self-confidence and self-image.
Myth #4: You just have to let acne run its course.
Fact: While there is no known cure for acne, it can be controlled with daily maintenance therapy with proven acne medications prescribed by a dermatologist. Acne or acne scars may be improved with the many acne products available in the market today.
Dermatologist can determine the type of treatment suitable to a person depending on the mildness or severity of the breakouts. There may be cases when over-the-counter treatment are not giving the expected results, a dermatologist is in the best position to assess the situation and recommend the appropriate alternative acne treatment regimen.
Treating Moderate to Moderately Severe Acne
In this condition where numerous whiteheads, blackheads, papules and pustules appear on the face covering a quarter to ¾ of the face or other affected areas, the help of a dermatologist and combination therapy is necessary.
Treating Severe Acne
Severe acne manifests deep cysts, inflammation, extensive skin damage and scarring. An aggressive treatment will be required under the regular supervision of a dermatologist.
Common dermotological procedures and prescription medications used to treat severe acne include:
- Drainage and Surgical Excision – Acne surgery should only be performed by dermatologists.
- Intralesional Corticosteroid Injection – this works by “melting” the cyst over a period of 3 to 5 days.
- Isotretinoin – this is the most effective acne treatment that works on all four factors that contribute to acne build up – excess oil production, clogged skin pores, acnes and inflammation.
- Oral Antibiotics – works to reduce the acne population, decreasing inflammation.
- Oral Contraceptives – works in women by suppressing overactive sebaceous glands.
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