Acne is the most frequently diagnosed skin condition in the United States.
What is acne?
It is characterized by pimples that appear on the face, back and chest. Every year, about 80% of adolescents have some form of acne and about 5% of adults experience acne.
Whiteheads/Blackheads, also known as comedones, are non-inflammatory and appear more on the face and shoulders. While they can lead to scarring, it is unlikely as long as they remain uninfected.
Red Pustules or Papules are inflamed pores that fill with pus and these can lead to scarring.
What causes acne?
In normal skin, oil glands under the skin, known as sebaceous glands, produce an oily substance called sebum. The sebum moves from the bottom to the top of each hair follicle and then spills out onto the surface of the skin, taking with it sloughed-off skin cells.
With acne, the structure through which the sebum flows gets clogged. This blockage traps sebum and sloughed-off cells below the skin, preventing them from being released onto the skin’s surface. If the pore’s opening is fully blocked, this produces a whitehead. On the other hand, if the pore’s opening is open or partially blocked, this produces blackheads. When either a whitehead or blackhead becomes inflamed, they can become red pustules or papules.
Benzoyl Peroxide: Used in mild cases of acne, benzoyl peroxide reduces the blockages in hair follicles.
Oral and Topical Antibiotics: Used to treat any infection in the pores.
Hormonal Treatments: Can be used for adult women with hormonally induced acne.
Tretinoin: A derivative of Vitamin A, tretinoin helps unplug the blocked-up material in whiteheads/blackheads. It has become a mainstay in the treatment of acne.
Extraction: Removal of whiteheads and blackheads using a small metal instrument that is centered on the comedone and pushed down, extruding the blocked pore.
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