Genes do a play a role in whether you get acne. If you have ever wondered why some people are not bothered with skincare and yet have flawless skin, whilst others who are careful still end up with acne, then you have genetics to blame for it. For some acne clears up by late teens, while others have acne till late adulthood.
Acne can be annoying and is often a cause for embarrassment, it is normally associated with teenagers. Below are the visible signs and symptoms to look out for. Depending on the severity, acne can cause emotional distress and scars on the skin, the earlier you get treated by a dermatologist, the lower the risk of such problems.
Symptoms of Acne
- Non-inflammatory Acne (will not cause scarring):
- Whiteheads (closed plugged pores)
- Blackheads (open plugged pores)
- Inflammatory Acne (which often leads to scars)
- Red Bumps (papules)
- Pimples (pustules), i.e. those with pus
- Large, solid, painful lumps beneath the skin (nodules)
- Painful, pus-filled lumps beneath the surface of the skin (cystic lesions)
What Causes Acne?
Acne usually occurs during puberty, when the body is going through hormonal changes. The problem starts with oil glands, they produce an oily substance called sebum. It typically appears on your face, forehead, chest, upper back and shoulders, because these areas have the most oil, hair follicles also connected to oil glands.
The follicle wall may appear bulging and produces a whitehead, or if the plug is open to the surface, then it darkens causing a blackhead. Blackheads are pores with congested bacteria and oil, which turns brown when exposed to the air.
Pimples are raised red spots with white centre, it develops when blocked hair follicles become inflamed or infected with bacteria. Blockages or inflammation that develop deep inside hair follicles produce cyst-like lumps beneath the surface of your skin.
Things to Avoid:
- Excessive Washing (it can aggravate the situation making it worst)
- Strong Facial Cleansers
- Avoid Facial Scrubbing
- Oily Sunblock
- Greasy Hair Treatments
- Stress (for adults)
There are many ways to treat acne. The main concern would be to unclog the pores and to keep them clear. By doing so, the bacteria that grows in clogged pores can be controlled; thus, reducing acne flare-ups. Treatment should also regulate the secretion of sebum to a manageable level.
Dermatologist can treat acne with creams, oral medication, chemical peels, LED light or laser treatments depending on severity. It is important to note that laser may not always be the best option for acne, but would be good for acne scars.
Most acne treatment will cause the skin to peel. Do note that this is not due to skin allergy, if this happens, let your Dermatologist know, and they will advise you on how to minimize the effect.
There are 3 groups of oral medication: oral Vitamin A, the hormonal medication, and the oral antibiotics. Your dermatologists will discuss which is best suited to you.
Chemical peels – a treatment where it peels one or more top layers of the skin, dislodging the dead cells and clogged pores; thus, allowing acne creams to penetrate better. Repeated treatments lead to regeneration of skin cells, stimulates collagen growth, clears acne and lightens or improve acne scars. Generally, you would need several treatments before you see results of cleared acne.
LED Light treatment or phototherapy uses light emitting diodes or various wavelength and its useful for combating inflammatory acne. Red and blue light therapy can be used together to treat active acne, the blue light helps reduce bacteria, whilst the red light helps with skin healing.
Lasers can reduce the size of your oil glands making acne less active and skin less oily. It can also improve acne scars, removing the redness of the skin. Although it is an effective method to treat acne, it should not be the first line of defence, as it could be costly. Non-laser treatments can be equally effective in combating acne.
As mentioned previously, there are many types of acne scars. The shallower scars can be removed through various means such as creams, chemical peels or lasers to flatten the scars; however, if they are deep then you may need subcision or scar surgery before applying laser treatments. Our dermatologist can identify the types of scars and determine which treatments would be best suited.
Acne in Adults
Some acne persists into adulthood, they fall into two categories: those who have acne in their teenage years, and those who had clear skin as teens but develop acne in their middle age.
If any first-degree relative (such as parents, siblings, or children) have acne, you have a 50% chance of getting acne. Some adults have hormonal swings which lead to acne, which is why women are more prone to getting acne, such as when they start/stop taking birth control pills that contain only progestins. They tend to be more severe in adults, causing larger bumps that are often painful and deep seated.
Acne in adults are treated in much the same way as teenage acne, with the exception that most women will need oral medication to get better control of their acne.
Now that you understand about your acne conditions and what has caused it to manifest. It’s important to speak to a dermatologist and get the right treatment. The earlier you realize the signs, the higher chance you have of preventing acne and scarring.