This page has been designed to address common questions regarding acne and its treatment.
If you would like to seek online advice regarding Acne Treatment, simply post your question in the question box on the right.
What is Acne and what are its causes?
Acne is an inflammatory skin problem seen usually over the face and trunk in teenagers and young adults. 'Pimples' is the colloquial name for acne. Most people cease to have problems with acne by their early 20’s, but in moderate/ severe untreated cases, it can persist for longer. During the rapidly growing teenage years sebaceous/ oil glands over the face and trunk become very active under the influence of hormones. This along with a few genetic factors also induces narrowing of the skin pores into which these glands open. This leads to these pores getting blocked (these are called comedones), leading to accumulation of oil, inside the pores. Bacteria and yeasts break this oil/fat into fatty acids which produces inflammation and pus. Left untreated this can lead to scarring and pigmentation.
What are black heads and white heads?
Black heads are the pores blocked by skin scales, dirt and hardened fat. These are also called ‘open comedones’. White heads are similar but covered by a thin skin layer, also called ‘closed comedones’. Comedones (black or white heads) are the earliest stage of acne. Inflammation and infection of these blocked glands results in accumulation of pus, called ‘pustular acne’. The aim of acne treatment is not only to treat the secondary inflammation, but to prevent comedone formation. This is only possible with topical or systemic retinoids.
What is the best adult acne treatment? How to treat severe acne?
What is best for you depends on the type and severity of your acne. Left untreated acne can cause severe problems with scarring and pigmentation. With effective treatment however, acne can certainly be cured (though well controlled is probably a better word as one cannot guarantee the occasional spot).
A number of treatment options exist including topical retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, topical and systemic antibiotics and systemic retinoids. Skin peeling (chemical or microdermabrasion) can open the pores, remove the dead skin and help with mild scarring/ pigmentation problems. However, treatment needs to be individualised and tailored to ones needs, depending on the severity of your acne. Doctors like Dr. Attili, who are specialists in treating skin disease can recommend what is best for you.
Do birth control pills help acne? Are there any side effects?
Yes. In women, birth control pills (oral contraceptive pills or OCP’s) can help with acne, but only the ones that contain special hormones that counter the natural male hormones (androgens). These chemicals are called antiandrogens.
The side effects of these treatments are similar to that of other OCP’s. However you will need to speak to your doctor to assess risk if you have any family or personal history of breast cancer, blood clots in your legs, migraine, high blood pressure, liver disease, or if you are obese and or smoke.
What is the best acne scar treatment?
Most acne scarring and pigmentation resolves with time. However a significant minority do have long-term problems. A number of options are available for treatment of acne scars, including topical retinoids, sunscreens, depigmenting agents, chemical peels and LASER resurfacing. However one should seek these acne treatments only from a trained and experienced Dermatologist. Acne treated by improperly administered therapy, can worsen the condition. Moreover not all therapies are suitable for everyone. Consult our Dermatologist online for advice regarding what would work best for you.
Should I change my Diet? Does diet/ fatty food affect acne?
Historically the role of diet in acne was thought to be a myth. However recent studies have suggested that dairy products and foods with high glycaemic index can influence hormonal and inflammatory factors, which can increase acne prevalence and severity. Studies have been inconclusive regarding the association between acne and other foods.
So in essence, yes if possible avoid foods with high fat content and foods with a high glycaemic index (see the Wikipedia link above).
Are home/ Chinese/ natural remedies for acne helpful? Do they prevent acne? How to know if they are suitable for me?
Some home remedies can be helpful, but in general commercial and internet based companies claiming to sell herbal/ Chinese remedies for acne, are a sham. Your facial skin is very sensitive. Do not experiment with home remedies and commercial creams, unless you speak to a dermatologist. Acne and pigmentation can get worse with some home remedies.
Also Read: What is Microdermabrasion?
How to prevent acne? Salon Facial peels and Microdermabrasion: Would they help my Acne?
Salon facial peels are performed by technicians who have no medical knowledge regarding skin diseases or their treatment. Over the years, we have seen a number of patients with irreversible side effects from facial cosmetic procedures performed by unqualified personnel. Some facial cosmetic procedures can make acne (and other skin problems) worse. Dermatologists are specifically trained to diagnose and treat skin disease and when possible always seek assistance from a qualified Dermatologist. Microdermabrasion should be performed only by an experienced dermatologist or under specialist supervision, who will decide when the skin is ready for treatment, and skin is adequately primed with exfoliating medications.
Is there a 'natural' acne treatment available that works? Do home remedies work for adult acne treatment?
The word 'natural' is hyped quite a lot by the media and the big brands. Unfortunately most of the so called 'natural' treatments are not scientifically tested. If they are, they would have been (and would be) adopted by the scientific community. In any case, most acne products are derived from nature. So the question is sort of counter intuitive. Similarly, home remedies can sometimes cause acne themselves and are not recommended. Having said that, a few of the treatments discussed above are available over the counter, and can be taken, without having to see a doctor. Acne is an easy disease to treat, if you know what you are doing!
Any other questions? Please post them in the question box on the top right. Our Dermatologist is waiting to answer your question.
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