Acne is a most common skin condition affecting people in the United States. As many as 50 million Americans live with acne, and most of them are in their teen or young adult years. Although anyone can get acne at any age or stage of life, it’s most common in teens. About 85 percent of teenagers will eventually get acne.
What is acne?
Acne is a disorder that affects the skin’s oil glands and hair follicles. Acne occurs when glands in the skin produce and secrete too much of the skin’s natural oil, called sebum. Sebum clogs pores in the skin, resulting in pimples. Bacteria in the sebum can cause inflammation and worsen the acne. A pimple or acne breakout can pop up anywhere, but usually strikes the face. Other common areas for acne breakouts include the neck, shoulders, chest, and back.
What are the symptoms of acne?
Many people think that acne is just pimples. But a person who has acne can have any of these blemishes:
- Whiteheads: pimples that stay under the surface of the skin.
- Blackheads: pimples that rise to the skin’s surface and look black (the black color is not from dirt).
- Papules: small pink bumps that can be tender.
- Pustules: pimples that are red at the bottom and have pus on top.
- Nodules: large, painful, solid pimples that are deep in the skin.
- Cysts: deep, painful, pus-filled pimples that can cause scars.
What causes acne?
Acne can be caused or exacerbated by a number of different things, including:
- Changes in hormone levels (such as during puberty or menstruation)
- Cosmetics or hair or skin products
- Having a family history of acne
- Some medications
- Something rubbing on the skin (like a hat or helmet)
- Vigorous scrubbing of the skin
How to treat acne?
There are several different acne treatment options, and which one is best for you depends on your condition. A good skin care regimen is often the first line of defense for mild acne or the occasional pimple. So you need to wash your face no more than twice a day (but always after sweating) with a gentle cleanser and lukewarm water. Sometimes, more treatment is needed to keep skin healthy. To clear up or prevent an acne breakout, you can try:
- OTC medicated cleansers, lotions, creams, gels, face pads, and more
- Prescription-strength topical ointments, creams, lotions, and other acne treatments
- Oral prescription treatments, including antibiotics or oral contraceptives for women
Isotretinoin (Sotret, Claravis, Amnesteem, Accutane, and others), a pill prescribed to manage very severe acne
- Corticosteroid Injections
- Laser treatments, including blue light therapy, pulsed light and heat energy therapy and diode laser treatment.
If you have acne, you will probably have to treat it for for a long time, not just during an acne breakout. Work with a dermatologist to determine the most appropriate treatment for your acne, and how long you should follow the treatment regimen. It’s important not to stop acne treatment before your doctor says it’s okay.