'A growing range of safe, effective acne treatments are available'
What causes acne?
Acne is common with most people developing acne during their teenage years. Acne effects both males and females. Males are more likely to develop acne during teenage and young adult years due to higher levels of androgens or male hormones. Females are more likely to have persistent acne into their 30's and even 40's or develop acne for the first time as an adult.
Acne is caused by blockage of the hair follicle and its associated oil gland, leading to the lesions seen in acne. Blockage of oil glands results in the build up of oils, dead skin cells and bacteria resulting in red, tender, swollen acne lesions. This occurs in skin areas richest in oil glands, commonly affecting the face, neck, chest, shoulders and upper back.
In many acne is mild including oily (seborrhoeic) skin with black heads (open comedones), white heads (closed comedones) and occasional papules and pustules limited to the face. In others it can be extensive and include tender and painful nodules and cysts that without early effective treatment result in scarring. Both active acne and acne scars can have an enormous personal impact.
What Acne Treatments are Available?
A range of effective treatments are available that can be tailored to your personal acne needs. For mild acne the right skin care and medicated topical creams can give good results. When acne fails to respond adquately to topical therapy, is more severe and/or when scarring is starting to occur a range of tablets can be effective including low androgenic oral contraceptive pills, antibiotics and vitamin A derivatives.
The right diet (a low GI diet combined with exercise) can help a bit in many with acne, however for those with significant acne the benefits from diet alone are limited and this needs to be combined with other proven skin care and acne treatments. In females acne may be part of the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which can present with acne and irregular or infrequent periods.
For active acne chemical peels including a series of treatments utilizing peels containing salicylic acid, mandelic acid and glycolic acid can prove useful. Laser and light treatments can also be utilized such as the Kleresca® Photonic Acne Treatment (New March 2016).
Appropriate skin care including using the right cleanser, using a medicated or active treatment products combined with the right moisturizer and sun-protective products are key to good acne control. A mild pH balanced 'soap free' cleanser is suitable for most with acne. Salicylic acid containing cleansers are also beneficial. Non-prescription acne treatment products containing salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid and nicotinamide/niacinamide can be beneficial in mild acne or combined with other treatments in more severe acne. Many moisturizers and sunscreen products can worsen acne, look for ones labeled 'oil free' and suitable for acne prone skin.
Treating acne early and effectively helps prevent scars. You should also be careful not to pick or squeeze pimples as this can also contribute to scarring. For acne scaring a range of techniques can be useful including, chemical peels including TCA CROSS (chemical reconstruction of skin scars), laser, skin needling, fillers, steroid injections and surgical scar correction. Often combination scar treatments will give you the best results.