What Everyone Should Know About Acne

About 50 million Americans are affected by acne each year. This makes it the most common skin condition in our country. Often the first symptoms begin in adolescence and persist as adults. About 85% of teens and young adults (ages 12 to 24) experience mild to severe acne in their younger years. Thankfully, there are great treatment options, but the skin condition can be persistent. As almost everyone has a chance of getting it, it’s good to know how you can recognize acne and what types, and treatment options exist.

Teenage girl with acne problem on beige background, close-up

What Is Acne?

First, it is good to understand what acne is, because the occasional pimple on your forehead, because you have an oily hairline, is not called acne. When a person suffers from this inflammatory skin condition, the oil glands at the base of the hair follicles are clogged by oil, dead skin cells, and other filth. This manifests itself in severe and large pustules – inflamed hair follicles. It’s mainly caused by androgen hormones. A combination of hypersensitivity to the activity of these hormones, poor skin care, and fatty acids within oil glands can cause the likelihood of acne. Other risk factors include: picking at the sores, clothing & headgear, air pollution & humid weather, stress, medication, genetics, and the menstrual cycle. The skin condition is most recognizable on the face, but it can also be on other areas of the body, such as the shoulders, neck, back, chest, and upper arms.

Types of Acne

This skin condition can show itself in different forms. These forms include:

  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Papules
  • Pustules
  • Fungal acne
  • Nodules
  • Cysts

Blackheads are open bumps that may fill with excess oil & dead skin. You might think it’s dirt, but the dark spots are caused by light reflection off the clogged follicle. Whiteheads are closed clogged follicles. Fungal acne happens when yeast excess clogs the hair follicles.

First, it is important to leave pustules, bleak or whiteheads, and cysts alone. If you start squeezing or scratching them, you increase the chances of poor healing, more acne, and scarring. If you have a mild form of acne, you may choose to use non-prescribed treatment options to treat the symptoms. You can also make an appointment with your professional healthcare provider to have the acne examined and set up a treatment plan. Should it not disappear with non-prescribed treatment options, also schedule an appointment with your professional healthcare provider. It is time for heavier treatment options.

Teenage girl before and after acne treatment on beige background

Are There Any Treatment Options?

When you go to a professional healthcare provider, such as a dermatologist, he or she will first examine your symptoms. How severe is the acne and what form are you suffering from? You will then be categorized into a certain grade and from here the best treatment plan will be set up. These grades are:

  • Grade 1; mild form of acne – mostly white and blackheads & some papules/pustules.
  • Grade 2; pustular acne – multiple papules/pustules, mostly on the face.
  • Grade 3; nodulocystic acne – multiple papules/pustules & inflamed nodules.
  • Grade 4; severe nodulocystic acne – large, painful and inflamed pustules and nodules

After this there are different treatment options to choose from. Your professional healthcare provider will probably start prescribing medication, this can be over-the-counter products, but also prescribed medication. Medication options, include:

  • Benzoyl peroxide; over-the-counter leave-on gel or wash
  • Salicylic acid; over-the-counter cleanser or lotion
  • Azelaic acid
  • Retinoids
  • Antibiotics
  • Dapzone
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Isotretinoin

Other possible treatment options are laser therapy, chemical peels and in very rare cases steroids. More natural treatment options – which you can use in combination with the prescribed treatment – are adding products with a good supply of vitamin A, E and Zinc, using tea-tree oil, drinking (green) tea and applying moisturizers with aloe vera to the skin/face.

It’s important to always seek medical treatment when you suffer – or think you suffer – from a skin disorder. Your healthcare provider will look at you, examine your symptoms, make the right diagnosis, and start an effective treatment plan. For more information about acne and other skin conditions and how and where to get treatment, start your online research here: