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  • contact your doctor

Acne – Basic Information

  1. What is acne?
    • Acne is a skin condition that happens when oil glands deep in the skin overproduce oil and pores get blocked causing a pool of oil to build up under the skin. The pool can become filled with a bacteria (P.acnes) and inflammatory cells trying to fight the bacteria. This leads to pressure and redness in what is known as a ‘comedone’.
    • There are two types of comedones. Open comedones are known as ‘blackheads’. Closed comedones are ’whiteheads’. Skin care products referred to as ‘noncomedogenic’ are products which do not clog pores and therefore, do not lead to comedones.
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  3. Why treat acne?
    • Acne is a temporary condition that peaks in puberty. It is very treatable but treatment takes work. If you are motivated, you can keep your acne under control.
    • Some people experience loss of personal confidence or distress because of their acne. If this sounds like you, you should treat it.
    • Some people can’t help but pick at their acne. If you ‘pop’ your pimples, you can permanently damage your skin and leave scars. If this sounds like you, you should treat it.
    • Some people really don’t care about their acne at all, if this sounds like you, why bother?
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  5. How should I take care of my face?
    • Good skin care starts with cleanliness. Wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser (do not wash your face more than twice daily).  Salicylic acid is an ingredient in some acne washes that can be helpful.
    • Patients with dry skin should use fragrance- free, non-comedogenic, oil-free moisturizers. These moisturizers will not clog pores and therefore should not cause black- or whiteheads.
    • For patients who choose to use makeup to cover their acne lesions, a water-based, non-comedogenic makeup should be used. Avoid oil-based cosmetics. Use makeup sparingly and remove your cosmetics at the end of the day.
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  7. What medications treat acne?
    • Benzoyl Peroxide- it’s over the counter, comes in creams and washes (great for ‘backne’). You can use it once or twice a day. It helps break down the comedone and keeps them from forming
    • Vitamin A derivatives- prescription medication comes in creams and gels. Used once a day. Very good at preventing comedone formation. A mainstay of acne management.
    • Antibiotics- come in topical or oral varieties. Antibiotics attack  the p.acnes bacteria and are great if you have inflammatory acne. But p.acnes is smart and can become resistant to antibiotics. To prevent this, you must use at least one additional acne medication (ie benzoyl peroxide or a vitamin D derivative).
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  9. When should I see results?
    • Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind once you start treating your acne is that it TAKES TIME to see results. Most acne ingredients work on preventing the comedones from being formed. Your new skin will emerge clear but your current pimples will need to heal on their own. This process takes 6-8 weeks. DO NOT GIVE UP!! Quitting is the #1 reason why acne treatments fail.
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  11. What about picking?
    • Again, picking is a bad idea and can lead to scars. If you are treating your acne and you have an occasional escape pimple that you have ‘accidentally’ ruptured, keep some bacitracin handy and apply it to your pimple before bed. This should help it heal.
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  13. Where can I get more information?
    • www.acne.org is a great resource
    • Come talk to us! We’d be happy to do a skin analysis and make recommendations for you. Call for an appointment today!