Acne vulgaris, or acne, is a very common skin disease characterized by pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, cysts, or nodules that can develop on the face, chest, and back. It occurs when the pores of the skin become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. When this clogged skin becomes infected by bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), inflammation can occur, causing rupture of the pore and further inflammation of the surrounding skin. While it’s unclear why some people develop scars secondary to their acne and others do not, the severity of acne is thought to play a part.
One of the main causes of acne is hormones. Increases in hormone levels during adolescence cause the oil glands to become larger and produce more oil (sebum). Most people with acne have normal hormone levels, but their oil glands can be more sensitive to the hormones.
For most people, acne tends to resolve in their 20s or 30s—although it can persist into, or even develop for the first time, during adulthood. Called “acne of maturity” or “post-pubertal acne,” this condition is more common in females. Acne can flare before or during a woman’s menstrual period and can occur while starting or discontinuing oral contraceptives.
While almost all acne can be treated it’s important to note that not all acne is the same. Also, people with different skin types respond to acne medications differently. We’ll evaluate your skin carefully and recommend an acne treatment regimen that’s best for you.
Acne treatment focuses on healing current pimples, preventing new breakouts, and preventing scars from forming. For optimal results, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a combination or multi-faceted approach (utilizing more than a single medication).
It’s important to be patient. Most acne regimens typically require 6 to 8 weeks before observable improvement. Stick with your medications and trust that they’ll work. Discontinuing treatment too soon could lead to suboptimal results or acne recurrence. Also, it’s important to understand that your acne may look worse immediately after starting treatment before it begins to improve.