Acne Skin Care Tips
- Be sure to wash your skin twice a day in circular motions for 1 minute, and then rinse with lukewarm water.
- Gently pat the skin dry.
- Do not pick or poke at the skin.
- Make a conscious effort not to touch your skin throughout the day.
- Use a gentle exfoliation once a week. (Clarisonic brush is ideal.)
- Be sure to stay consistent with your topical acne creams.
- Moisturize with the appropriate moisturizer, even if you have oily skin.
- If desired, use a mineral makeup for coverage.
- Wash your pillowcase every week.
- Drink plenty of water every day.
- Avoid excess exposure to sunlight, and do not use tanning beds or sun lamps.
There are many different ways to treat acne, many of which can be covered by insurance. Getting on a good skin care regimen is key to improving the health of your skin. Some recommended treatments are, consulting with the dermatologist to get started on topical and or oral antibiotics; having acne facials monthly; chemical peels every 6-8 weeks; and microdermabrasion with blue light therapy treatments to reduce inflammation and bacteria.
Dermatologic Treatment Guide
- Topical preparations such as; retinoids, benzoyl peroxides, and clindamycins. Some you may be familiar with are Differin Gel, Epiduo, Ziana Gel, and Atralin.
- Systemic or oral antibiotics such as; tetracycline, minocycline, and doxycycline. These antibiotics are used typically to treat mild to moderate acne for the face, chest and back.
- Accutane is a specialized acne therapy for severe acne, or for those who have not had success treating their acne with other topical and oral antibiotics. This typically requires monthly visits with blood work examinations. These results are extremely rewarding.
- Give acne products enough time to do their job.
- Chemical peels and microdermabrasion with blue light therapy are very beneficial in treating acne by reducing the production of bacteria, help loosen blackheads and preventing scar formation. The treatments are rarely covered by insurance.
- Acne facial with extractions performed by our Licensed Paramedical Aesthetician. These in office treatments help reduce inflammation and remove clogged pores. In many cases your insurance may cover these treatments.
References: The use of Photodynamic Therapy for the treatment of Acne Vulgaris. Dermatologic clinics- volume 25, Issue 1 (January 2007)- copyright 2007 W.B. Saunders Company- D01:10.10161j.det2006.09.014
Myth #1: Acne is caused by poor hygiene. If you believe this myth, and wash your skin hard and frequently, you can actually make your acne worse. Acne is not caused by dirt or surface skin oils. Although excess oils, dead skin and a day’s accumulation of dust on the skin looks unsightly, they should not be removed by hand scrubbing. Vigorous washing and scrubbing will actually irritate the skin and make acne worse. The best approach to hygiene and acne: Gently wash your face twice a day with a mild soap, pat dry–and use an appropriate acne treatment for the acne.
Myth #2: Acne is caused by diet. Extensive scientific studies have not found a connection between diet and acne. In other words, food does not cause acne. Not chocolate. Not french fries. Not pizza. Nonetheless, some people insist that certain foods affect their acne. In that case, avoid those foods. Besides, eating a balanced diet always makes sense. However, according to the scientific evidence, if acne is being treated properly, there’s no need to worry about food affecting the acne.
Myth #3: Acne is caused by stress. The ordinary stress of day-to-day living is not an important factor in acne. Severe stress that needs medical attention is sometimes treated with drugs that can cause acne as a side effect. If you think you may have acne related to a drug prescribed for stress or depression, you should consult your physician.
Myth #4: Acne is just a cosmetic disease. Yes, acne does affect the way people look and is not otherwise a serious threat to a person’s physical health. However, acne can result in permanent physical scars–plus, acne itself as well as its scars can affect the way people feel about themselves to the point of affecting their lives.
Myth #5: You just have to let acne run its course. The truth is, acne can be cleared up. If the acne products you have tried haven’t worked, call and schedule an appointment with our office. With the products available today, there is no reason why someone has to endure acne or get acne scars.
1. What causes acne?
The causes of acne are linked to the changes that take place as young people mature from childhood to adolescence (puberty). The hormones that cause physical maturation also cause the sebaceous (oil) glands of the skin to produce more sebum (oil). The hormones with the greatest effect on sebaceous glands are androgens (male hormones), which are present in females as well as males, but in higher amounts in males.
Sebaceous glands are found together with a hair shaft in a unit called a sebaceous follicle. During puberty, the cells of the skin that line the follicle begin to shed more rapidly. In people who develop acne, cells shed and stick together more so than in people who do not develop acne. When cells mix with the increased amount of sebum being produced, they can plug the opening of the follicle. Meanwhile, the sebaceous glands continue to produce sebum, and the follicle swells up with sebum.
In addition, a normal skin bacteria called P. acnes, begins to multiply rapidly in the clogged hair follicle. In the process, these bacteria produce irritating substances that can cause inflammation. Sometimes, the wall of the follicle bursts, spreading inflammation to the surrounding skin. This is the process by which acne lesions, from blackheads to pimples to nodules, are formed.
2. I wash my face several times a day. Why do I still get acne?
Many people still believe that acne is caused by dirty skin. The truth is, washing alone will not clear up or prevent acne. Washing does, however, help remove excess surface oils and dead skin cells. Many people use all kinds of products, including alcohol-based cleansers, and scrub vigorously, only to irritate the skin further and worsen their acne. Washing the skin twice a day gently with water and a mild soap is usually all that is required. However, acne is actually caused by a variety of biologic factors that are beyond the control of washing. For that reason, you should use appropriate acne treatments.
3. Does stress cause acne?
Stress is commonly blamed for the development of acne. Stress can have many physiologic effects on the body, including changes in hormones that may theoretically lead to acne. In some cases the stress may actually be caused by the acne lesions, not the other way around! If the acne is being treated effectively, stress is not likely to have much impact on the majority of people.
4. I never had acne as a teenager. Why am I now getting acne as an adult?
Usually, acne begins at puberty and is gone by the early 20s. In some cases, acne may persist into adulthood. Such types of acne include severe forms that affect the body as well as the face (which afflict males more than females).Acne is associated with the menstrual cycle in women. In other cases, acne may not present itself until adulthood. Such acne is more likely to affect females more than males.
There are several reasons for this. As females get older, the hormonal patterns change, disposing sebaceous glands to develop acne. Ovarian cysts and pregnancy may also cause hormonal changes that lead to acne. Some women get acne when they discontinue birth control pills that have been keeping acne at bay. Sometimes young women may wear cosmetics that are comedogenic-that is, they can set up conditions that cause comedones to form.
5. What role does diet play in acne?
Acne is not caused by food. Following a strict diet will not clear your skin. While some people feel that their acne is aggravated by certain foods, particularly chocolate, colas, peanuts, shellfish and some fatty foods, there is no scientific evidence that suggests food causes or influences acne. Avoid any foods which seem to worsen your acne and, for your overall health, eat a balanced diet–but diet shouldn’t really matter if the acne is being appropriately treated.
6. Does the sun help acne?
Many patients feel that sunlight improves their acne lesions and go to great lengths to find sources of ultraviolet light. There is no proven effect of sunlight on acne. In addition, ultraviolet light in sunlight increases the risk of skin cancer and early aging of the skin. It is, therefore, not a recommended technique of acne management, especially since there are many other proven forms of treatment for acne. Moreover, many acne treatments increase the skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet light, increasing the risk of ultraviolet light exposure.
7. What is the best way to treat acne?
Everyone’s acne must be treated individually. If you have not gotten good results from the acne products you have tried, schedule a consult with our office. Your dermatologist will decide which treatments are best for you. Generally, 2% salicylic acid cleansers and benzoyl peroxide gels are a good start.
8. What kind of cosmetics and cleansers can an acne patient use?
Look for “noncomedogenic” cosmetics and toiletries. These products have been formulated so that they will not cause acne.
Some acne medications cause irritation or pronounced dryness particularly during the early weeks of therapy. Some cosmetics and cleansers can actually worsen this effect. The choice of cosmetics and cleansers should be made with your dermatologist or our Aesthetician.
Heavy foundation makeup should be avoided. Most acne patients should select powder blushes and eye shadow over cream products because they are less irritating and noncomedogenic. Camouflaging techniques can be used effectively by applying a green undercover cosmetic over red acne lesions to promote color blending.
9. Is it harmful to squeeze my blemishes?
Yes. In general, acne lesions should not be picked or squeezed by the patient. In particular, inflammatory acne lesions should never be squeezed. Squeezing forces infected material deeper into the skin, causing additional inflammation and possible scarring.
10. Can anything be done about scarring caused by acne?
Scarring is best prevented by getting rid of the acne. Dermatologists can use various methods to improve the scarring caused by acne. The treatment must always be individualized for the specific patient. Chemical peels may be used in some patients, while dermabrasion or laser abrasion may benefit others. It is important that the acne be well controlled before any procedure is used to alleviate scarring. We carry the latest fractional CO2 laser, the Lumenis Total Fx which is excellent for Acne Scars.
11. How long before I see a visible result from using my acne medication?
The time for improvement depends upon the product being used, but in almost all cases it is more a matter of weeks or months instead of days. We recommend the use of a medication or combination of medications daily for 4 to 8 weeks before deciding it does not work.
It is very important for patients to be aware of this time frame so they do not become discouraged and discontinue their medications. Conversely, if you see no change whatsoever, you might want to check with us regarding the need to change treatments.
12. Would using my medication more frequently than prescribed speed up the clearing of my acne?
No–always use your medication exactly as your dermatologist instructed. Using topical medications more often than prescribed may actually induce more irritation of the skin, redness and follicular plugging, which can delay clearing time. If oral medications are taken more frequently than prescribed, they won’t work any better. There is a greater chance of side effects.
13. My topical treatment seems to work on the spots I treat, but I keep getting new acne blemishes. What should I do?
Topical acne medications are made to be used on all acne-prone areas, not just individual lesions. Part of the goal is to treat the skin before lesions can form and to prevent formation, not just to treat existing lesions. Patients are generally advised to treat all of the areas (forehead, cheeks, chin and nose) that tend to break out rather than just individual lesions.
14. My face is clear! Can I stop taking my medication now?
If your dermatologist says you can stop, then stop–but follow your dermatologist’s instructions. Many times patients will stop their medication suddenly only to have their acne flare up several weeks later. If you are using multiple products, it may be advisable to discontinue one medication at a time and judge results before discontinuing them all at once. Ask your dermatologist before you stop using any of your medications.
15. Does it matter what time I use my medication?
Check with your dermatologist or pharmacist. If you were taking one dose a day of an antibiotic, you could probably take it in the morning, at midday or in the evening. You should pick one time of day and stay with it throughout your treatment. With oral medications prescribed twice a day or three times a day, you should try your best to spread out the doses evenly. Some antibiotics should be taken on an empty or nearly empty stomach. For optimal results with topical treatments, you should strictly follow your dermatologist’s recommendations.
For example, if instructed to apply benzoyl peroxide in the morning and a topical retinoid at bedtime, it is important to follow these directions exactly. If the two were applied together at bedtime, for example, you could decrease the efficacy of the treatment because of chemical reactions that make them less effective.
16. I have trouble remembering to take my oral medication every day. What’s a good way to remember? What should I do if I forget a dose?
This is a common problem. Many patients try to associate taking their medication with a daily routine such as brushing teeth or applying makeup. It also helps to keep the medication close to the area where the reminder activity is carried out.
In most cases, if you miss a day of your oral treatment, do not double up the next day; rather, get back to your daily regimen as soon as possible.