Acne lesions are clogged and inflamed pores. Once a plug of sebum has formed in a pore, bacteria infects it and causes inflammation, which results in a pimple. Acne can appear as whiteheads, blackheads, small bumps, nodules, or cysts. While it is most often a normal physiologic occurrence, acne can be aggravated. Fluctuating hormone levels, certain medications, or stress can trigger acne or aggravate an existing condition. Picking at acne can also spread the bacteria and increase inflammation.
There are a variety of treatments available for acne and many patients require a combination of treatments to fully address the condition. Benzoyl peroxide is available in over the counter and prescription strength; it targets the surface bacteria which can aggravate acne. Retinoids are used to treat whiteheads and blackheads. In some cases, antibiotics are either applied to the skin or taken orally to control bacteria and reduce inflammation. Antibiotics are more effective when combined with a topical treatment such as benzoyl peroxide or retinoids. Patients who suffer from severe cystic acne may benefit from an oral retinoid called isotretinoin, which shrinks the size of oil glands. Isotretinoin is only available under medical supervision and can have serious side effects. In other cases, the doctor may prescribe hormone therapy for women in the form of low-dose estrogen and progesterone birth control pills.
In some cases, a good skincare regime with the best products for your skin type can control the oil, sebum, and bacteria responsible for acne. Many patients also benefit from regular facials or photofacials to keep skin clean and clear with an even skin tone. However, when acne is caused by other issues like hormonal fluctuation or other conditions, medical care from a board certified dermatologist like Dr. Terrill at Sonoma Skin Works is often necessary to control the issue.
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