Know the basics
What is Acne?
Acne, also known as acne vulgaris, is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles becomes clogged with dead skin and oil, which leads to inflammation. The oil-producing glands under your skin are called sebaceous glands and the holes in your skin are called pores. The hair follicle is what connects your pores to your sebaceous glands. Acne can range from mild red pimples to severe painful cystic acne. Acne usually affects the face, shoulders, back and chest. Acne is can cause emotional stress and scaring. The earlier you treat your acne the lower your risk for have lasting physical and emotional effects.
How common is Acne?
Acne is common and can occur at any age. Most often, acne affects teenagers who are going through puberty. However, adult acne is also very common. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of Acne?
Signs and symptoms of acne depends on the severity of your condition. Some signs include:
- Whiteheads – appears as clogged pores;
- Blackheads – appears as open pores, the mucus turns dark when air meets and is oxidized;
- Papules – appears as small, red and tender bumps;
- Pustules – which are papules with pus at the tip;
- Nodules – solid, large and painful lumps;
- Cystic acne – large pustules that are under the skin and very painful.
There may be other symptoms not mentioned above. If you have any questions about these signs, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Having treatment at home for more than 3 months with no result;
- Acne persists or becomes more severe, you should go and see a dermatologist;
- Acne appears after taking new medication under a doctor’s prescription;
- If you develop an allergic reaction and show symptoms after treatment at home. These symptoms may include difficulty breathing, intermittent breathing, swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue.
Know the causes
What causes Acne?
There four main causes of acne. These include:
- Oil production;
- Dead skin cells;
- Clogged pores;
Normally, your oil glands secrete oil to lubricate your skin and hair. When you produce too much oil, your hair follicles get filled with dead skin and oil, which causes your pores to get clogged. If the clogged pore is infected with bacteria, then inflammation occurs and a pimple will form. Understanding the cause can help you find the right treatment for your acne.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for Acne?
There are many risk factors that can worsen acne, such as:
- Hormones: the amount of sexual hormones known as androgens increases during puberty, which leads to too much oil (sebum) production. Androgens also increase during pregnancy. In some birth control pills also contain androgens. Please consult your doctor when taking oral contraceptives.
- Some medicines can cause acne: you have high risk of acne if you are taking medications containing corticosteroids, androgens or lithium.
- Family history: genetics plays an important role. If parents have acne, you will also have the risk of acne.
- Oily Products: You may develop acne if your skin is in contact with oily lotions or creams.
- Friction or pressure on the skin: Skin contact or strongly rubbed by objects such as telephones, cell phones, helmets, or backpacks.
- Stress: this does not cause acne, but if you are suffering from acne, stress can make acne worse.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is Acne diagnosed?
Acne is usually diagnosed after a medical review and physical examination by your doctor. Your doctor will check your skin and may examine your skin cells under a microscope. Some may conduct blood tests to help you choose the best drugs and monitoring side effects during treatment.
How is Acne treated?
The treatment of acne and acne depends on your condition or the severity of acne. Sometimes your doctor will combine many different approaches to treating the most effective and avoid “drug tolerance”, because bacteria in the acne drug have drug resistance. You can treat acne by using creams, special cure and medicine.
For mild acne (whiteheads, blackheads or small red bumps), the acne treatments include:
- Wash your face with warm water and a mild gentle cleanser, such as Cetaphil.
- Using lotion containing benzoyl peroxide (as Oxy 10).
- Using lotion contains salicylic acid (as Sastid or acnes).
If the above methods do not work, you should go to see a doctor. Your doctor will prescribe stronger medicines for your skin. Your doctor may prescribe topical creams or oral antibiotics to treat your acne.
For acne redness, swelling and more serious, you can:
- Using benzoyl peroxide.
- Ask your doctor if you are having pus or cystic acnes.
- Using an antibiotic cream or prescription of a doctor.
- Using retinoids.
- Using azelaic acid.
- Oral antibiotics or retinoids (eg: isotretinoin) prescription of a doctor. This is how the final treatment given to you if above methods are not effective, as retinoids and antibiotics have very strong side effects. You should not take medicine without a doctor’s guidance.
Sometimes acne needs to be treated with potent drugs or a combination of topical and oral. Deep inflammatory acne may often lead to scars. Therefore, your doctor may prescribe for you a combination of creams and oral medications to prevent scars. There are many methods to remove scars like laser treatments and scar ointments. Ask your doctor for more information and most appropriate treatments for scar.
Most acne treatments take from 6 to 8 weeks. Some methods will make your acne worse before healed. Some birth control pills may help control acne. Birth control pills control the amount of androgens in your body, hormones that causes acne. Please consult your doctor or pharmacist to choose the right treatment for you.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Acne?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope acne:
- Having healthy diet, exercise regularly and drink plenty of water (at least 1.5 liter/day) will help subcutaneous fluids more easily excreted and improve metabolism in your body.
- Washing your face gently for at least twice a day with special treatment cleanser.
- Sleeping and having adequate rest to maintain the appropriate hormone.
- Keeping hands clean to avoid spreading bacteria and dirt from hands to acnes, avoiding making acne worse.
- Medication or cream as directed by your doctor.
- Avoid irritants cosmetic acne. You should use appropriate cosmetics, sunscreen and shampoo does not contain oil (oil free) and on the label showed that it does not cause acne.
- If you are irritated by the sun, the best solution is not exposed acnes directly under sunlight. You should use oil-free sunscreen. You can ask your pharmacist or doctor at the pharmacy for your acne to buy appropriate sun cream.
- Do not squeeze pimples or self-resized because it is easy to have scars or spread out inflammation. Your doctor will take out your acne when needed.
- See a doctor if the acne gets worse or leave scars despite being treated.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Print. Page 67.
Acne. http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/dermatology-a-to-z/acne/who-gets-causes/acne-who-gets-and-causes. Accessed July 23, 2015.
Acne. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001876/. Accessed July 23, 2015.