What is acne?

Acne is a common skin disorder which usually starts around puberty, presenting as blackheads, nodules and pus-filled spots. Although acne typically occurs after puberty and resolves after teenage years, it can affect anyone. Many adults continue to battle active acne and scarring at different stages of their life. If left untreated, acne can lead to permanent scarring of the skin.

What causes acne?

Acne is caused by pores that become clogged with oil, dirt, and/or dead skin cells.

In the majority of cases, acne is simply associated with changes in body hormones.

It is unusual for acne to be caused by an underlying disease, although patients may need assessment by a specialist to ensure that they do not have a major hormonal problem (e.g polycystic ovary syndrome in women).

Rarely, acne may be related to an external factor, such as medication or a work-related chemical. Few specialists believe that acne is caused by diet or a food allergy.

What are the treatments for active acne?

Many patients are unsure of when to seek medical treatment for their acne. If you have been treating your acne with over-the-counter treatments, medicated soaps or even antibiotics and have not seen an improvement, it might be the right time to speak to one of our Dermatologists at Kinvara Private Hospital.

Every acne sufferer is unique and it is important to match the patient with a treatment that is effective for them. A particular treatment may work for one patient but have little effect on another.  This is why it is important to try different treatments until you find a treatment that works for you.

Here are some medical treatments to consider for active acne;

  • Over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide preparations
  • Antibiotics
  • Dianette – Androgens are hormones that stimulate hair growth and the grease glands in your skin. If you produce too much androgen, or if you are sensitive to the effect, the grease glands may produce too much sebum. This can block the grease glands, which can become infected and inflamed causing acne spots. Dianette stops the androgens affecting your skin and reduces the amount of androgens produced.
  • Isotretinoin – Many active acne medications are vitamin A or retinol based, and these can be taken orally (like Isotretinoin, which contains retinol), or topically (retinol creams)
  • Phototherapy – Phototherapy treatment is also a good option for some patients. This involves using a laser or other light-based treatment to address acne.
  • Cortisone injections – useful for cystic acne or large lesions

Other treatments that can help relieve acne include exfoliating treatments, such as exfoliating creams and ointments or chemical peel treatments.

What are the treatments for acne scarring?

One of the disheartening features of acne is the scarring that can result, which can be worse than the original problem.  It is important to understand at the outset that acne scarring is difficult to treat and an in-depth and/or combination treatments may be necessary to obtain the best result. Nevertheless, the benefits of successful acne scar treatment are immense. Patients feel self-confident, their self-esteem improves and they feel confident in their relationships. Some options for improving acne scars include;

  • Microdermabrasion
  • Dermabrasion
  • Laser resurfacing
  • Chemical peels / phenol peel
  • Surgical excision

Acne scars are often deep and pitted, and the purpose of these treatments is to smooth out the skin and reduce irregularities caused by the scarring.

Treating acne scarring can be an emotional rollercoaster as the problem is highly individual and can be very difficult to treat. However, there are so many treatment options available that most people can see some improvement in their skin with dedication and the right Dermatologist.

Some patients respond better to a combination of procedures and your Dermatologist will advise you which combination is best for you.

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