If you suffer from acne, you are not alone! Acne affects 85% of teenagers and is still extremely common in adulthood affecting 50 million Americans annually.

Patients often ask how they can have acne when they aren't going through puberty. The answer is that we don't know exactly what causes acne. However, there are multiple theories including increased oil production, hormonal imbalances, bacterial overgrowth, hereditary factors, and other factors such as diet and stress.

There are a few different types of acne:

  1. Comedonal
  2. Inflammatory
  3. Cystic

Thankfully, many different treatments for acne are available. and these will vary depending on the type and severity of your acne.

Most of the time, we recommend cleansing the skin twice daily with a medicated cleanser and then applying antibiotic/anti-inflammatory/retinoid products. You may also be prescribed an oral antibiotic. Oral antibiotics are commonly prescribed when there is inflammation or redness in the skin, as this is a sign of bacterial infection. Since bacterial proliferation is involved with inflammatory and cystic acne, oral antibiotics help by reducing the amount of bacteria in the skin leading to a clearing of the pimples. Patients need to be on oral antibiotics for a period of several weeks to months. Future courses of oral antibiotics may be recommended if there is a recurrence of acne. The benefits of taking oral antibiotics outweighs the risks in most patients, so antibiotics are a commonly prescribed initial treatment for acne. 

Since skin health is related to overall health, I do recommend lifestyle changes in addition to the prescriptions. First, I recommend a low glycemic diet in addition to the prescription medications. High glycemic diets have been linked with acne. In addition, stress and lack of sleep can also be triggers of acne so it is important to make appropriate changes to reduce acne flares. 

For those patients who do not respond to first line treatment, I will often recommend second line or more aggressive treatments such as hormonal treatment or isotretinoin.

What's most important about acne is that you seek treatment! Many patients suffer and wait too long to be seen. By the time they come, they have a lot of blemishes or sometimes, permanent scarring has occurred.

Unfortunately, acne can cause of poor self-image, facial scarring, anxiety and depression. However, with treatment, acne can improve and many permanent effects can be prevented by starting treatment.

Justine Park, MD Dr. Park is a Board-Certified Dermatologist who has been practicing at Glendale Dermatology since 2007.

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