Acne Care Information
Acne may appear to be a matter of superficial cosmetic concern, although this might not warrant mention to the adolescent whose confidence flags when the first peppering of pimples erupts on her forehead. Jane Liedtka of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stresses that acne can cause "significant emotional distress." It may not be possible to prevent this blight on the complexion, but knowledge of basic acne care improves awareness of how this skin condition can be managed.
Acne: Who Gets It?
When excess oil production, clogged pores and bacteria converge, the result is inflamed pores--acne. Acne is associated with the teenage years, as oil glands are exacerbated by excess hormones. But some people are genetically predisposed to acne, notes KidsHealth.org. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) classifies acne as mild, moderate to moderately severe and severe. Regardless of if one is battling the occasional outbreak of pimples or pervasive nodulocystic acne, acne can't be treated overnight, no one treatment works for everyone and sometimes medical intervention is necessary.
Basic Acne Care
Although acne isn't caused by dirty skin, basic acne care includes daily washing. The AAD recommends washing the face at least twice daily with a mild cleanser, using the fingertips. For mild acne, drugstore topicals may be helpful. The Mayo Clinic advises using products that contain benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol, salicylic acid or lactic acid. Home treatment plans should be given between four and eight weeks to take effect. If acne doesn't resolve, patients may need to arm themselves with prescription acne medication.
When to See a Dermatologist
The myth about acne is that it should run its course. Not so, says Liedtka, who claims that "the condition can be treated." The AAD weighs in on when it's time to seek medical intervention: when acne causes social isolation, depression, shyness and loss of confidence. It states that severe acne characterized by deep nodules or cysts under the skin is of particular concern. This skin condition is not only painful and disfiguring, but it can also cause severe scarring.
Medical Acne Treatment
Acne treatments provided by dermatologists are regulated by the FDA. Depending on the severity of the acne, a doctor may prescribe a stronger topical that contains antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid or dapsone. The FDA indicates that moderate to severe acne may be treated with a combination of prescription topicals and oral antibiotics. Severe acne always requires medical treatment. A 15- to 20-week regimen of oral isotretinoin is effective in resolving severe acne but can have unpleasant and severe side effects, warns the FDA. It is administered with caution to women of child-bearing age, as isotretinoin causes birth defects.
When Acne Goes Untreated
Liedtka stated that many people note resolution of acne once they enter their 30s. However, blemishes can leave behind an unpleasant reminder of awkward, teenaged years: scars. The AAD indicates that although restoring the complexion to its pristine "pre-acne" state isn't possible, there are numerous treatments to reduce acne scars. However, these are cosmetic treatments and are generally not covered by health insurance.
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