Acne is a common skin condition commonly found in young adults and is characterized by whiteheads, blackheads, and inflamed cysts. Acne is caused by several factors. It is a disease of the hair follicle and the pores that lead to them in the skin. It appears the process occurs when pores first become clogged. Although Acne has been blamed on everything from poor cleaning habits, greasy food, and emotional stress, it appears that sensitivities to androgen or testosterone-like hormones play the most dramatic role. When glands produce too much oil, the pores can become blocked, accumulating dirt, debris, and bacteria. The top of the plug may be white (whitehead) or dark (blackhead). If it ruptures, the material inside, including oil and bacteria, can spread to the surrounding area and cause an inflammatory reaction. If the inflammation is deep in your skin, the pimples may enlarge to form firm, painful cysts that can subsequently cause scars.
Acne commonly appears on the face and shoulders, but may also occur on the trunk, arms, legs, and buttocks. Acne is most common in teenagers, but it can happen at any age, even as an infant. Acne tends to run in families and can be triggered by hormonal changes related to menstrual periods, pregnancy, birth control pills, or stress. Drugs both topical and oral can cause it and often environmental changes such as humidity and sweating can contribute. Despite the popular belief that chocolate, nuts, and other foods cause acne, this does not appear to be true.
There are several over the counter and prescription medicines available including oral antibiotics such as minocycline, doxycycline, and tetracycline and topical antibiotics such as clindamycin or erythromycin. Retinoic acid cream or gel (Retin-A) and isotretinoin pills (Accutane) are also used for more severe cases. Other prescriptions include benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol, and salicylic acid. Birth control pills can sometimes help clear up acne but in some they can worsen acne.
Unfortunately, for many people, traditional treatments are not effective. Dr Frank specializes in treating this population. Currently the most aggressive of treatments rely on either Accutane therapy or Laser Therapy. Although extremely effective, Accutane does require a certain amount of precautions and monitoring. Dr. Frank often uses Accutane for patients that scar easily. In those that cannot or will not take it, laser treatments such as Isolaz and Photodynamic therapy prove to be quite effective in his patients. For the scars there are many treatment options- see acne scars treatment.
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DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is solely for educational purposes and is solely the opinion of Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, which may differ from other medical professionals.
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