Acne is a very common medical condition most often seen in teenagers but is seen in people of all ages. It develops when the natural skin oils and exfoliating skin cells clog up a person’s hair follicles. This results in the development of a localized irritation and inflammation that gives rise to whiteheads, blackheads or pimples if not treated. The most common locations for these eruptions are on the face, chest, forehead, shoulders and upper back.
There are numerous effective treatments available on the market today. Unfortunately, as long as hair follicles exist, the potential for the development of acne is forever present. As we all well know, acne pimples and bumps are notorious slow healers and once they do resolve, another one seems to take its place.
For many, acne is mainly just a nuisance that seems to develop at the wrong place and at the wrong time. For others less fortunate, acne can be a significant problem especially in those who must contend with severe outbreaks resulting in the potential for emotional distress and permanent scarring on the skin as a result of the acne. This is why the sooner a person begins treatment for their acne issues, the lower their risk of complications becomes.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of acne can vary greatly depending on the severity of the outbreak. The most common forms of acne are:
- Whiteheads (closed plugged pores)
- Pimples (the classic acne pimple with white pus in the center)
- Blackheads (open plugged pores with a black center)
- Small red, tender bumps (papules)
- Nodules (large, painful, raised lumps beneath the skin)
- Cystic lesions (Lumps beneath the skin surface that are painful and pus filled.
When to seek medical help:
For those individuals who do not find improvement in their acne condition after utilizing the numerous over the counter acne treatments available, the next step should be to see your primary care physician. Your physician may prescribe a stronger prescription acne medication, or they may elect to refer you to see a skin specialist (dermatologist) depending on the severity of your acne issues.
Although acne issues may persist for years and at almost any age, women more than men tend to suffer with flare ups not just in their teen years but well into adulthood especially within a week of their menstruation. This form of acne often resolves with little treatment in women who take oral contraceptives.
Older adults who experience a sudden onset of severe acne should seek an immediate medical evaluation. Such instances of acute acne may represent some underlying medical condition that requires treatment.
The Laser Treatment option:
The majority of acne sufferers typically start treating their acne issues with over-the-counter (nonprescription) acne products. You should use these OTC medications as tolerated for at least a few weeks in order to properly evaluate their effectiveness in controlling the acne outbreaks. In those cases where these OTC medications are not effective, it is appropriate to seek medical help at that time. Your physicians will have prescription medications in their arsenal that can prove helpful in addressing your acne issues. These prescription treatments are often quite effective in not only controlling the acne, but in so doing, helping to minimize any potential damage to the skin and any scar formation as a result of the acne.
The majority of acne medications work by effecting one of three things. They either help to reduce the skin’s natural oil production, fight the inflammation and infection caused by the bacteria within the clogged hair follicle, or they help to accelerate the skin’s cellular turnover. Some prescription acne medications will affect more than one of these factors but still require up to 4-6 weeks to work. Ironically, for many, the acne treatment can actually make the acne outbreak worse before it gets better. For some people, complete acne resolution may take months to years to achieve.
Prior to beginning any acne treatment, it is extremely important to always talk to your physician about any risks and benefits of the medication and if there are other treatment options available. For those individuals who would prefer to avoid the must stronger prescription acne medications, acne treatment options now includes topical laser treatments.
Treatment for Acne:
Topical and oral treatments for acne are the most commonly utilized treatment modalities used in addressing acne issues. Dermatologists and primary care physicians alike have grown to favor the use of prescription medications such as Retin-A or Tazorac in combination with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory creams in order to help control their patients’ acne issues. Unfortunately, as in the case of any medication, there are always side effects or potential complications that can arise from using such treatment modalities. This is why laser treatments for acne outbreaks are slowly starting to gain approval within the medical community.
Acne laser treatments is really no different than a laser genesis treatment to the affected area(s). When laser energy is applied to the skin, it is able to penetrate deep into the skin at the follicular level and heat up the dermal and subdermal layers of the skin. For the patient, this feels like a warm facial massage with a laser.
As the laser heats up the skin, the heat is able to not only stimulate collagen formation to help tighten the skin, but it is simultaneously helping to eliminate the bacterial growth and loosen up the oils within the occluded hair follicle. In so doings, the laser is helping to open up the occluded hair follicle which in turns promotes the resolution of the acne. When laser treatments are used in conjunction with OTC and some prescription acne treatments, acne flair ups can be better controlled sooner and with the potential for less scarring. Thus hopefully eliminating the need for the much more potent prescription acne medications that many dermatologists like to prescribe.
If you would like to learn more, please call STL Vein and Cosmetics and schedule your free consultation today. Let our staff of specialists help you get rid of your acne issues.