- Whiteheads – which are closed, clogged pores
- Blackheads – which are open and have a dark surface
- Papules – small pink bumps that may feel tender when touched
- Pustules – red at the surface of skin, and filled with fluid
- Nodules – large, painful bumps that form deep under the surface of skin
- Cysts – which pose a risk of scarring. These lesions are deep and filled with fluid
Acne is a condition that is approached carefully, based on severity.
Mild acne treatment may begin with topical solutions and creams and regular face washing. Typically, washing the face with an anti-bacterial soap two to three times each day, and applying a benzyl peroxide medication will clear blemishes within six to eight weeks. Following this protocol is important to stopping bacterial activity and avoiding worsening of symptoms.
Exfoliating the skin is also beneficial, as it removes dead skin cells before they can become lodged in the pores. Exfoliation may be gently done with the use of a salicylic acid product. Scrubbing the skin to slough off dead skin cells should be avoided so that further irritation does not occur.
Moderate to severe acne is best addressed with a multi-faceted plan that treats the multiple causes of acne. We have a full arsenal of treatment options for highly personalized care, including:
- Topical prescription medication: The application of topical lotions and creams can reduce existing inflammation and inhibit the growth of bacteria on the skin. Various topical solutions may be prescribed. Some medications include substances such as benzyl peroxide, clindamycin, retinoic acid, and sulfur. Topical medication may produce mild redness, burning, stinging, or peeling, side effects that will decrease over time. By using prescribed topical medication, visible results are typically experienced after four to eight weeks.
- Oral prescription medication: Like topical solutions, oral antibiotics seek to decrease inflammation and limit bacterial growth. The difference is that an oral antibiotic will act systemically rather than locally on the skin. This form of treatment can be very effective at accomplishing this goal, but does not have an impact on the amount of oil naturally secreted in the skin, nor the abnormal behavior within skin cells that lead to clogged pores. At the Center for Dermatology, we believe that oral medications should be used only for as long as the benefits outweigh the risks.
Before prescribing oral antibiotics for acne treatment, Dr. Bryan Selkin or our knowledgeable Physician Assistants or other providers will discuss the various particulars involved, including all side effects, which may include drier skin, nosebleeds, or increased skin irritation during the first thirty days of treatment. When acne is severe, has the potential to scar, and is unresponsive to other therapies, we will consider the use of isotretinoin (previously known as Accutane). This medication is a form of vitamin A and treats all aspects of acne, but can only be used in selected people and does require more office visits and monitoring. In the right patient, it is markedly effective and can lead to long term improvement of acne.
Photodynamic therapy is a newer, markedly effective treatment for acne, which avoids the use of oral medications. The Center for Dermatology has extensive experience with photodynamic therapy as it used for other skin conditions besides acne. It involves the use of blue light to activate a special solution applied to the area of acne. The interaction between the blue light and solution targets sebaceous acne causing glands and associated bacteria. The result is a marked improvement in acne and decreased chance for scarring.
As acne is completely unique to your skin, we offer other adjunctive treatments for personalized care, including:
- Hormone therapy
- Medical microdermabrasion
- Medical chemical peel
- Acne surgery (extractions of blackheads and whiteheads)
The Center for Dermatology involves patient input heavily in making the best individualized treatment program for acne. From creams to pills to light treatments, we devise a program for each patient that best fits what he/she is most comfortable with and likely to be most compliant with.