What is acne?
Acne, what we call pimples, can be a painful and socially embarrassing skin condition. Comedones are the key feature of acne. Comedones are commonly known as blackheads (open comedones) and whiteheads (closed comedones). Pustules, nodules and cysts can also occur and these can lead to scarring. While acne occurs mostly in teenagers, it can also occur in infants, adults and sometimes even the elderly. The most common type of acne suffered by teenagers and young adults is called acne vulgaris. In most patients, acne vulgaris usually resolves without treatment by the time people hit their early 30s. However, acne can often lead to scarring which can be difficult and costly to treat. If you notice scarring develop on your skin as a result of acne, see your dermatologist as soon as possible to receive appropriate treatment. Acne treatments offered will vary depending on numerous factors, which is why it is essential that your skin is assessed in context of your medical history and skin type.
The oil producing machinery (sebaceous glands) in your skin is the primary problem in acne vulgaris. For various reasons, these glands produce more oil than necessary which then mixes with dead skin cells in the pores causing them to clog. This leads to the appearance of the blackhead. When bacteria called P. acnes grows in this suitable environment, inflammation occurs leading to red spots, pustules, whiteheads, nodules and cysts. When the inflammation is too great for the skin to cope with, this leads to scarring. It is for this reason that appropriate acne treatments are implemented early in the course acne.
Effective Skin Care
Effective Skin Care
For mild to moderate acne and congested or oily skin, sometimes all that is required is a good skin care regimen to follow. Some well developed and trusted cosmeceutical creams, cleansers and frequent medical grade acne-specific chemical peels can make all the difference for your acne.
Various prescription creams can be used to prevent and/or treat for mild to moderate acne. These creams may contain antimicrobials, antibiotics, retinoids (vitamin A derivatives) as well as salicylic acid (beta-hydroxy acid), glycolic acid (alpha-hydroxy acid), sulphur and nicotinamide (Vitamin B3).
Sometimes prescription medications are required to combat acne effectively. Antibiotic tablets are often used and can be a very effective short term option whilst other treatments are started. Hormonal treatments can be added for female patients. Injections of cortisone can sometimes be used in larger acne lesions for quick relief. An oral vitamin A derived prescription medication prescribed by dermatologists can be used in more severe and resistant cases of acne.
Lights & Lasers
Some laser and energy devices can be used to treat active acne. Lasers and treatments such as fine wire diathermy and HydraFacial used in the right clinical context, with the right settings and in the hands of expertise, can be used to improve acne more rapidly and reduce the redness of acne scarring more quickly. LED light treatments can also be used, however for improved effectiveness, requires a medicated cream to be applied just prior to the procedure.
What is acne scarring?
Acne can lead to scarring, a permanent textural change to your skin. Picking at pimples can sometimes lead to more inflammation inducing more scarring. When a pimple clears up, it often leaves a change in colour, which can be redness or, in darker skinned individuals, pigmentation may increase leading to a darker brown appearance. These colour changes eventually fade away, but can take anywhere between six months to five years. Acne scarring causes a textural change in the skin and is classified into five main types including ice pick, rolling, boxcar, keloidal (and hypertrophic) and atrophic scars. While lasers and energy-based devices are useful options to help with acne scarring, to get the best results a combination of treatments over a period of time is usually required. Additional techniques include TCA Cross, subcision, volumizing injections and other surgical methods such as punch excision and elevation.