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What Causes Acne and How to Treat It

Nearly everyone has experienced some form of acne at some point in their lives. The condition is often referred to as acne vulgaris or “common acne” because it affects so many people.

Although acne mainly affects people during puberty, about 30 percent of people continue to suffer its effects through adulthood. Typically, acne starts between the ages of 13 and 15 due to the increased hormones and other changes that occur in adolescence.

Causes of Acne

There are four main causes of acne:

Teenage acne usually lasts up to five years, although people who have oilier-than-normal skin may continue to experience outbreaks until much later in life. Puberty is typically when acne begins, generally caused by the body producing androgen hormones which circulate through the body and causes the sebaceous (oil) glands in the skin to produce extra oil, which skin bacteria feed on and increase greatly.  When pores clog due to oil and excess skin cells, the situation becomes worse and pimples form.

Many people blame acne on certain types of foods, like chocolate and other sweets, but the actual cause of acne is a person’s genetics, a tendency for pores to clog, and increased levels of hormone production.

Acne typically forms on the face, back, chest, and shoulders due to the prevalence of sebaceous glands in these areas. Certain medications that possess lithium and testosterone can also contribute to the development of acne.

Stress can cause acne flare-ups, as certain glands produce an overabundance of stress-related hormones – leading to a worsening of a person’s acne. Women who become pregnant can also experience acne caused by the increased hormone production during this time.

What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of acne are the appearance of whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. The initial lesion of acne is a blocked pore – called a ‘comedo’.  These pores are blocked either by excess skin cells (a ‘whitehead’ or closed comedo) or by oxidized oil (a ‘blackhead’ or open comedo).  Many lesions will remain in this form, while others become inflamed and potentially rupture, causing the familiar red bumps and pus bumps we commonly call ‘pimples’.  When many pimples in the same area form at the same time, they can form even larger and deeper lesions called ‘nodules’ or ‘cysts’.  These are the most severe acne lesions, are often painful, and can lead to abnormal pigmentation and scarring.

Treatment for Acne

There are many acne treatments that are available over the counter – both in stores and online.  Sometimes these are enough to control your acne, however if not, then it is best to see a dermatologist. A dermatologist is best experienced to properly asses your acne and determine if prescription medication is necessary, and if so, which one(s) are most appropriate for your particular acne type and situation.

Treatments vary from multiple types of topical medications, to various oral medications, to laser and light treatments, to chemical peels, to injections.  The most aggressive acne treatment is an oral medication called isotretinoin – commonly known as ‘Accutane’.  This is the only acne treatment that can potentially cure acne, however it causes severe birth defects and there are other potential side effects, so its use is limited and is not considered first-line treatment.

Professional Acne Treatment in Fort Worth, Texas

All types of acne have a possible treatment available. If over-the-counter remedies and general good skincare has not helped clear up your acne, seek medical treatment by a licensed dermatologist.

Call Dr. Matthew Mittelbronn at Lakeview Dermatology today at (817) 752-5256 or request an appointment online, and we will help you regain clearer, brighter, more beautiful skin!

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