How our skin specialists can help treat Acne:
Acne causes physical discomfort and can greatly impact self-esteem and confidence. People of all ages and skin types can suffer from acne. Fortunately, it’s a very treatable condition. Our dermatologists have over 20 years combined experience in the effective treatment of acne. We understand that because there are a variety of acne types, every patients treatment regime must be individualised. A treatment regimen developed by a dermatologist provides the best chance of effective management.
There are many myths about what causes acne and how to treat it. As specialists, dermatologists understand the reasons behind this skin condition and are experts in the medical treatment and management of acne. We can combine both prescription medication with other treatment options such as extractions, peels and light-based therapies to create an effective treatment plan.
What is Acne?
Although acne is most common in teenage years, it can affect people of all ages and skin types. The problem starts with a blockage in the hair follicle (pore) which then, with its associated oil (sebaceous) gland becomes infected and inflamed. Whiteheads, blackheads, pustules and cysts are all forms of acne and they are most commonly seen on the face and trunk where the oil gland is most active.
What causes Acne?
There are many contributing factors in the formation of acne but the exact reasons why certain people are affected their degree of severity are poorly understood.
Genetic predisposition is one of the strongest factors and is likely to determine the age of onset and severity. Acne commonly runs in families but the hereditary nature of it is not fully understood.
Hormonal changes tend to trigger the onset of acne and this can be from as young as 8 years old in certain individuals. Androgens increase in both boys and girls during puberty and these hormones result in increased oil production and cell turnover within the pores, increasing the change of them blocking up. Women may experience long-standing hora on all acne which flares in a cyclical nature with the menstrual periods.
Exogenous (external) hormones such as corticosteroid medications or anabolic steroids can also cause acne.
Once a pore is blocked then it becomes prone to both infection and inflammation. This is what causes a red, inflamed or pus-filled lump known as a pimple. Bacteria known as Propionibacterium acne is typically found in acne lesions but other factors may also be involved in the inflammation around the follicle. Stress and certain dietary factors are commonly described as exacerbating factors in acne and it is likely that this is as a result of other hormonal cascades in the body.
Further studies are required to establish the nature of the link between diet and acne but some evidence suggests that high glycemic index (high sugar) diets cause worsening of acne.
What are common symptoms and signs of acne?
Acne can be varied in appearance and can progress through multiple stages. Here are the different types of acne.
Blackhead, whitehead or comedones represent a blockage within the pore and is generally the primary lesion in all pimples. It appears as a small black, white or skin coloured bump in the skin with little or no surrounding redness. Sometimes the skin needs to be stretched to show the extent of the acne.
Papules and pustules are generally defined as a small red bump with or without a yellow pus-filled head. This lesion represents infection and inflammation of the pore.
Cysts and nodules are large, deep and variable in redness. These lesions are often long-lasting and painful. They often represent significant inflammation in the deep skin which often results in scarring down the track.
What lifestyle changes can support treating acne?
While we’d all like to be able to fix our acne with the right diet and lifestyle choices, unfortunately it’s not that simple.
In many cases the cause of the acne is strongly genetic and it either needs to run its course or be managed with appropriate treatment.
Acne and acne scarring have a significant psychosocial impact on sufferers and acne scarring can be difficult to treat, so proactive treatment of early acne is preferable.
Some simple things can make a difference in some cases, but professional advice is always advisable. Reducing intake of high glycaemic index (high sugar) food and excessive amounts of dairy foods may help some people. Similarly minimising stress where possible may reduce inflammation in the body.
Avoiding heavy makeup and oils (in particular mineral oils) is important in those prone to congestion and blocked pores. Non-comedogenic makeup can be used.
Avoiding irritation of the skin can also reduce inflammation and acne lesions. Those prone to acne have a tendency to over-cleanse and use harsh products on the skin which are usually counter-productive. These can actually cause an increase in oil production and skin cell turnover resulting in more blocking of the pores and more acne lesions.
Skin care in acne is very important and in some cases can help enough to avoid medical treatments. Products should be anti-inflammatory (including ingredients such as niacinamide) and gently exfoliating (AHAs and BHAs) to help unblock the pores. Topical vitamin A (retinoids) will also help reduce the formation of blocked pores. For individual advice and recommendations, see our cosmetic and laser clinic.
How can I best treat my acne?
Acne treatments need to be tailored to the individual and can vary greatly. There are many options to suit different skin types, lifestyles and personal preferences.
Treatment options include:
– Correct skin care
– Topical or oral antibiotics
– Topical or retinoids
– Anti-androgen therapies
– Oral isotretinoin
– Extraction therapy
– LED light therapy
– Fine wire diathermy
– Skin peels and other targeted treatments.