Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in the United States. It mostly affects adolescents and young adults but may also occur in later life. In fact, some people develop acne for the first time in their 40s or 50s. Acne is characterized by comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), papules (pimples), nodules (cysts), and scarring which can occur on the face, neck, chest, back, and arms.
Acne develops when pores of the skin become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Eventually, when the pores become too full, they can rupture and lead to painful cysts. Hormones usually play a role as acne often starts during puberty, pregnancy, or with stopping/starting birth control pills. Acne is NOT caused by poor hygiene, fatty foods, or chocolate. Studies have shown that acne can be associated with low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.
The goals of acne treatment are to treat the existing lesions and prevent new ones from forming. Fortunately, there are many treatments available including facial cleansers, topical and oral antibiotics, birth control pills, spironolactone, and isotretinoin. A dermatologist will tailor the regimen for each person based on the type and severity of acne, skin sensitivity, and patient preferences. There are also many cosmetic modalities available to reduce dark spots and scars from old acne lesions.