What are the underlying causes of acne?

Acne is the most common skin problem in the United States with about  40 to 50 million Americans who have acne at any one time. Most people who have acne are teenagers or young adults, but acne can occur at any age, even newborn babies. Both men and women can get acne. Some women get acne when they reach middle age and can be very hormonal and cyclical.

What causes acne?

Acne appears when our skin clogs up. This clog begins with dead skin cells. Normally, dead skin cells rise to the surface of the pore, and the body sheds the cells. When the body starts to make lots of sebum, oil that keeps our skin from drying out, the dead skin cells can stick together inside the pore. Instead of rising to the surface, the cells become trapped inside the pore. Bacteria that live on our skin, P. acnes, also get inside the clogged pore. Inside the pore, the bacteria have a perfect environment for multiplying very quickly. With loads of bacteria inside, the pore becomes inflamed (red and swollen). If the inflammation goes deep into the skin, an acne cyst or nodule appears.

Here are some underlying causes:

Fluctuating hormone levels: An imbalance can lead to breakouts. Women often experience fluctuating level around their periods, during pregnancy, peri-menopause,  or menopause, or after discontinuing (or starting) birth control pills.

Stress: Researchers have found a relationship between stress and acne flare-ups. In response to stress, our bodies produce more androgens (a type of hormone). These hormones stimulate the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin, which can lead to acne. This explains why acne can be an ongoing problem when we find ourselves under constant stress.

Family history: Research studies suggest that some people may have a genetic predisposition for acne. People who have this predisposition are more likely to get adult acne.

Hair and skin care products: Read the labels on your skin care and hair care products. Make sure that you see one of the following terms on every container: Non-comedogenic, oil-free, and fragrance free. Be sure your moisturizer, cleanser, sunscreen, and all other products contain one these terms. These products are least likely to cause acne.

Medication side effect: Acne is a side effect of some medicines, such as prednisone. If you suspect that a medicine is triggering your acne or making it worse, continue taking the medicine, but talk with the doctor who prescribed it.

Undiagnosed medical conditions: Sometimes, acne is a sign of an underlying medical condition, especially if it is stubborn. Examples can include polycystic ovarian syndrome, rosacea, perioral dermatitis, and allergic reactions.

 

What are the best topical products/ingredients for acne?

Patience is the most important ingredient when trying to treat acne, Acne cannot be cleared overnight, but it does mean that virtually every case of acne can be controlled.

People who have mild acne have a few blemishes. They may have whiteheads, blackheads, papules, and/or pustules (aka pimples). Many people can treat mild acne with products that you can buy without a prescription. A product containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid often clears the skin. This does not mean that the acne will clear overnight.

Despite the claims, acne treatment does not work overnight. At-home treatment requires four to eight weeks to see improvement. Once acne clears, you must continue to treat the skin to prevent breakouts.

When to see Elite MD:

If you have a lot of acne, cysts, or nodules, a medicine that you can buy without a prescription may not work. If you want to see clearer skin, you should see our acne experts. Eltie MD offers the following types of treatment:

Acne treatment that you apply to the skin: Most acne treatments are applied to the skin. There are many topical acne treatments. Some topicals help kill the bacteria. Others work on reducing the oil. The topical medicine may contain a retinoid, prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide, antibiotic, or even salicylic acid.

Acne treatment that works throughout the body: Medicine that works throughout the body may be necessary when you have red, swollen types of acne. This type of treatment is usually necessary to treat acne cysts and nodules. Your dermatologist may prescribe one or more of these:

Antibiotics : helps to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation.

Birth control pills  and other medicine: works on hormones, can be helpful for women.

Isotretinoin:  high dose Vitamin A to shirink oil glands.

Procedures that treat acne:

There are a variety of in office treatments that can be helpful to clear acne in combination with medical treatment with more effective results, esp when there is acne scarring present:

Lasers and other light therapies: These devices reduce the P. acnes bacteria

Chemical peels: You cannot buy the chemical peels over the counter that dermatolgists use. Chemical peels treat two types of acne—blackheads and papules.

Acne removal: Sometimes a procedure called “drainage and extraction” is needed to remove a large acne cyst. This procedure helps when the cyst does not respond to medicine. It also helps ease the pain and the chance that the cyst will leave a scar. If you absolutely have to get rid of a cyst quickly, our providers can inject the cyst with medicine.

Outcome:

Without treatment, acne can cause permanent scars, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.To avoid these possible outcomes, Dr Sonia recommends that people treat acne. When the skin clears, treatment should continue. Treatment prevents new breakouts.

Next Steps:

Check out our Elite MD store for all the physician-grade clinical acne-fighting products to help relieve and prevent acne.

AND get 15% off on your acne products in August OR LOCK IN 15% off automatic home deliveries on your acne kit to be sure you keep your skin clear.

Check out Dr Sonia’s Book “Acne Be Gone For Good” available on Amazon

Check out Dr. Sonia’s latest episode on acne on her podcast “50 Shades of Beautiful” for more beauty tips (Coming soon in August).

If you suffer from chronic acne, be sure to make an appointment with our acne experts to put you on a combination and aggressive treatment plan individualized for you.