Acne is a common skin problem that usually first appears during the adolescent years and can continue into adulthood. Acne commonly appears on the face and shoulders, but may also occur on the back, arms, legs, and buttocks.
While acne is not a major health risk, it can cause strong feelings of self-consciousness and result in permanent scarring. Mild acne and the occasional pimple rarely require medical treatment and will resolve on its own, but moderate to severe cases should be managed by a qualified dermatologist to prevent long-term damage.
Successful management of moderate to severe acne requires ongoing care and consultation, so it’s important to select a dermatology who you feel comfortable partnering with. Our New York skin doctor, Dr. Frank, specializes in the treatment of acne in patients of all ages. His deep understanding of the skin, use of the latest technology and treatments, and his compassionate nature make him an ideal dermatologist to choose to treat your acne. Dr. Frank recognizes that acne treatments must be tailored to suit each individual patient and therefore does not have one set treatment protocol for acne. Instead, he takes the time to understand his patients’ medical history and unique skin type before recommending a treatment type.
Causes of acne
Why do some people suffer from severe acne while others manage to escape their teenage years with only an occasional blemish? The answer is in our genes. If your parents suffered from acne, you’re likely to suffer from it too.
There are many myths about the causes of acne. For many years, acne was blamed on diet and food choices. Teens are often admonished for eating greasy food and chocolate, but the reality is that diet plays a very small part – if any at all – in the development of acne. Likewise, acne is rarely caused by poor skin hygiene. This myth can lead to over-cleansing of the skin and use of harsh products that can actually aggravate the skin and worsen acne.
Acne is caused by hormonal changes that are primarily dictated by our genes. These hormonal changes are why acne is associated with adolescence, menstruation, and pregnancy. Even newborns can suffer from acne, as a response to the major hormonal change they undergo during the birthing process.
Our skin is filled with millions of tiny pores that connect to oil glands beneath the skin. These glands maintain skin integrity by keeping skin moisturized, clean and healthy. Acne occurs when these pores become blocked with dead skin cells and oil. When a blockage occurs, the pore stop functioning correctly and the area may become enlarged and inflamed as sebum continues to build up beneath the skin. In most cases, hormonal changes trigger a disruption in the healthy function of skin pores; however, lifestyle factors and certain bacteria that reside on the surface of the skin also cause acne.
Types of Acne
Acne comes in many shapes and forms. Acne patients may suffer from a single type or a combination of the following:
- Whiteheads: Whiteheads are a type of comedo (acne lesion) that occurs when the skin pore become blocked, causing the surface of the pore to close over. Skin cells and oil build up under the skin resulting in redness around the pore and causing a small “whitehead” to appear at the opening of the pore.
- Blackheads: Blackheads are another type of comedo, which occur when the skin’s surface does not become sealed closed. Instead, dirt and sebum build up in the pore and turn black due to an oxidative reaction.
- Pustules: Pustules are inflamed pimples. They look like whiteheads, but are filled with white or yellow pus and typically have a red ring around them. Picking at pustules can lead to scarring.
- Papules: When comedones become inflamed, they may form small pink or red bumps known as papules. This type of acne can cause tenderness and sensitivity in the affected area. Picking or squeezing papules can worsen the inflammation and lead to scarring. Papules are commonly seen in patients who suffer from moderate to severe acne.
- Nodules: When an acne lesion becomes more severely infected, a large, inflamed bump may develop under the skin. Known as a nodule, these are often very painful and require treatment by a dermatologist. The presence of nodules typically indicates a severe case of acne.
- Cysts: Cystic acne consists of large lesions filled with pus, which may look similar to boils. Cysts can be very painful and require treatment by a skin doctor. Patients with cysts are usually diagnosed with severe acne.
Best Treatments for Acne in NYC
Acne is incredibly common and can have serious ramifications, but fortunately there are a number of treatments available that can treat acne. Treating acne requires patience, as some trial and error is necessary. Each individual responds to treatment methods differently and the best solution may be a combination of treatments and lifestyle changes. Located in New York, Dr. Frank runs a fully accredited, state of the art facility that allows him to offer the latest, most advanced acne treatments available today.
Topical medication is often the first line of treatment for acne. It can be very useful in controlling mild to moderate acne. Common topical treatments include salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, retinoic acid (Retin-A), and resorcinol creams or gels. Systemic medications, taken orally, are another type of medication that may be prescribed to control acne. Accutane is a very powerful drug that can provide good results, but requires close monitoring by a doctor as it can have strong side effects. If bacteria is the cause of acne, antibiotics may be prescribed. These can be applied topically or taken orally. Birth control is another common medication that is used to control acne. It can be very helpful in some cases, but can worsen acne in others.
If medications are not working or cannot be taken by the patient, Dr. Frank may recommend laser treatment or photodynamic therapy. He recommends Isolazto many of his New York City patients to treat and manage acne. This revolutionary laser treatment is FDA approved to treat comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads) in two ways – by reducing the bacteria that causes and acne and draining the pores from the inside out. There is no downtime following this procedure and it is completely painless*. Patients typically see results within 24 – 48 hours, including reduction in pore size, reduced redness, drying and flattening of blemishes, and overall improvement in skin tone and texture*.
Photodynamic therapy reduces the bacteria that cause acne and decreases sebum production. The treatment provides long-term improvement of inflammatory or cystic acne. It is not effective, however, in combating comedonal acne. During the treatment, Dr. Frank applies a drug called Levulan ALA to the skin, allows it to absorb, and then uses a special light or laser to photo-activate the Levulan ALA. This reduces the bacteria and increases the production of collagen within the skin, which can decrease the appearance of existing acne scars and improve skin tone and texture.
Schedule a consultation
If you suffer from acne, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an initial consultation in our New York office. With so many treatments available today, there is no reason to continue suffering from acne. No matter your age or severity of acne, Dr. Frank will find a solution that works for you.