Acne is a skin disease – not something that you just outgrow. It affects 40 to 50 million Americans of all ages, making it the most common skin disorder in the United States.
Acne happens when the body’s hormones cause an overproduction of sebum, or oil, to flow to the skin’s surface. When the excess oil becomes stuck inside a pore, or hair follicle, people can develop different types of acne:
- Blackheads occur when oil and dead skin cells become caught in the follicle. When the oil reaches the skin’s surface and is exposed to air, it oxidizes, or turns dark. Blackheads are usually seen on the nose, chin or forehead. Blackheads don’t mean the skin is dirty, and they cannot be simply washed away.
- Whiteheads are small hard bumps, usually seen on the face. They resemble pimples, but usually don’t show the same inflammation or redness that pimples do.
- Pimples are whitish or pink bumps that have fluid or oil in them. They are often seen on the face, but may also show up on the back or shoulders. They may swell up and be sore to the touch.
- Cysts and nodules are larger lumps below the skin’s surface. These lumps, also known as nodulocystic acne, affect the sebaceous glands that produce the skin’s oil. If not treated, cystic acne can cause scarring.
Midwest Dermatology successfully diagnoses and treats all of these forms of acne. Our approach is to design a regimen, or treatment program, suited to the needs and situation of both teen acne and adult acne patients.
The most effective acne treatments our board-certified dermatologists prescribe include:
- Topical acne medications that are applied on top of the skin:
- Benzoyl peroxide creams and gels dry up excess oil in pores and fight bacteria on the skin’s surface.
- Antibiotics also dry the skin’s surface and fight bacteria.
- Retinol helps to loosen up blackheads and cause them to come to the skin’s surface.
- Differin is a derivative of Vitamin D that gently clears pores. This helps to clear up acne blemishes and prevent new breakouts.
- Oral acne medications, that are taken in pill form, by mouth:
- Antibiotics like decrease the bacteria caught in follicles.
- Isotretinoin, commonly known as Accutane and other trade names, is reserved for severe cases of acne. With a six-month course of treatment, this Vitamin A derivative can completely clear acne.
- Specialized acne therapies:
- Comedone extraction to gently remove whiteheads, blackheads and open up pores.
- Liquid nitrogen spray to reduce redness and swelling of acne cysts and to help open clogged pores.
- Intralesional steroid injections to help reduce the pain, inflammation and redness that accompanies cystic acne.