All About Acne – A Guide to Safe Summer Skin
Acne is one of the most common skin disorders treated by dermatologists. It can affect any age group but is prevalent among adolescents and is classified based on its severity as mild, moderate and severe grades, which also helps in deciding the line of treatment. In recent years, due to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of acne, new therapeutic modalities and various permutation-combinations have been designed to treat acne. Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi MD – Director, Consultant Dermatologist & Specialist Hair Transplant Surgeon, MedLinks breaks down the causes, prevention, and cures for the common skin issue.
Acne appears due to clogging of skin pores. Normally, dead skin cells rise to the surface of the pore and the body sheds these cells. When the production of sebum increases, the dead skin cells can stick together and get trapped inside the pore. Sometimes bacteria that live on our skin also gets inside the clogged pore and find a perfect environment to multiply quickly. This leads to inflammation. If the inflammation goes deep into the skin, an acne cyst or nodule appears.
The characteristic lesions of acne include black and white comedones, inflammatory papules, pustules, nodules and cysts, which may lead to scarring and pigmentary changes. Lesions occur primarily on the face, neck, upper back and chest. When assessing the severity of acne, one needs to consider the distribution, type and number of lesions and the presence or absence of scarring. There are around 13 variants of acne and the treatment varies for each type. Diagnosis of acne is primarily clinical, however, the history and examination can help in determining the underlying cause.
Acne has a substantial impact on a patient’s quality of life, affecting both self-esteem and psychosocial development. Therefore, early intervention is recommended in the treatment of acne in order to prevent socially embarrassing sequelae. The dermatologist can offer the following type of treatments for acne:
Topical – it is used in a mild and moderate grade of acne as monotherapy or in combination with oral. The topical agents include benzoyl peroxide, retinoids, salicylic acid, azelaic acid, lactic acid, tea tree oil (5%), picolinic acid gel (10%), dapsone gel (5%) etc.
Systematic therapy – Oral antibiotics, oral isotretinoin and hormonal therapy in the form of OCPs, spironolactone, cyproterone acetate, flutamide.
Physical treatment – Drainage of the pus-filled bumps followed by intralesional steroid injection in the cyst.
We have a specialized range of treatments for acne at our clinic which includes the following:
Acne Buster treatment targets the first lesion of acne that is comedones with the use of various chemical peels according to the type of lesions.
Carbon laser therapy takes care of moderate to severe forms of acne, helping in faster recovery of the lesions and thereby significantly reduces the chances of scarring.
Internationally acclaimed Photodynamic therapy is a light treatment, used to treat moderate to severe inflammatory acne that does not respond to other treatments, It acts by reducing the size and activity of oil-producing glands and also helps to kill certain bacteria on the skin.
Treatment for acne scars can be broadly divided into two groups, those involving tissue losses (Ice pick scar, Box scar, Rolling scar, and Follicular macular atrophy) and those involving tissue excess (hypertrophic scars or keloids). Currently, available treatment for scars include simple excision, and suturing, either alone or combined with punch grafting and laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, various type of lasers, chemical peels, and fillers. For hypertrophic scars, treatment includes pressure therapy, Intralesional injections, surgical excision, radiotherapy, laser therapy and cryotherapy
Waiting for acne to clear on its own can be frustrating and without treatment, it can cause permanent scars, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. When the skin clears, treatment should continue to prevent new breakouts. Your dermatologist can tell you when you no longer need to treat acne:
- Wash your face twice a day and after sweating.
Perspiration, especially when wearing a hat or helmet, can make acne worse, so wash your skin as soon as possible after sweating.
- Use your fingertips to apply a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser.
Using a washcloth, mesh sponge or anything else can irritate the skin.
- Be gentle with your skin.
Use gentle products, such as those that are alcohol-free. Do not use products that irritate your skin, which may include astringents, toners and exfoliants. Dry, red skin makes acne appear worse.
- Scrubbing your skin can make acne worse.
Avoid the temptation to scrub your skin.
- Rinse with lukewarm water.
- Shampoo regularly.
If you have oily hair, shampoo daily.
- Let your skin heal naturally.
If you pick, pop or squeeze your acne, your skin will take longer to clear and you increase the risk of getting acne scars.
- Keep your hands off your face.
Touching your skin throughout the day can cause flare-ups.
- Stay out of the sun and tanning beds.
Tanning damages your skin. In addition, some acne medications make the skin very sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light, which you get from both the sun and indoor tanning devices.
- Consult a dermatologist if:
- Your acne makes you shy or embarrassed.
- The products you’ve tried have not worked.
- Your acne is leaving scars or darkening your skin.
Today, virtually every case of acne can be successfully treated. Dermatologists can help treat existing acne, prevent new breakouts and reduce your chance of developing scars.