What is acne?
Acne affects most people at some point in life. This disease occurs in highly sebaceous (oily) parts of the skin, such as the face, chest, back, and upper arms. Acne starts as a disease of pore plugging. Pores are the shared openings of skin where sebum (oil) and hair emerge onto the surface. When skin cells at the top-most layer stick to each other around a pore, this creates a blockage, and then oil cannot get out.
Once oil becomes stagnant, it changes from a liquid to a solid. The solid oil blockage clinically appears as whiteheads and blackheads, also called comedones. After comedones are formed, a certain bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) overgrows in the oil and generates an inflammatory response, leading to pimples and pustules. In severe cases, the inflammatory response can be extensive, leading to large pimples (nodules) and cysts, and eventually scars.
What are the treatments for acne?
It takes many weeks for the top layer of skin to turn over. Because of this, acne can be a very slow disease to treat. Most treatments take up to 12 weeks for maximal benefit to occur. Treatments for acne include:
Salicylic acidMany over-the-counter acne products contain salicylic acid, which can help mild cases of acne. It promotes skin cell shedding and can release plugged pores (comedolysis).
Benzoyl peroxideBenzoyl peroxide is also easy to find in over-the-counter acne products, and it has both comedolytic and antimicrobial benefit. Benzoyl peroxide is highly complementary to topical retinoids.
Chemical peelsSalicylic acid peels are particularly beneficial for acne and can "jump start" an acne program. Read more about our chemical peels. Most insurance companies do not pay for chemical peels for acne.
RetinoidsRetinoids are the most effective of all topical medicines prescribed for acne. They are powerful chemical exfoliants and help prevent pore plugging in the first place. Available retinoids for acne include tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene.
Oral and topical antibioticsPrescription antibiotics for acne come in topical and oral preparations. They are ideally used for short periods of time in cases of inflammatory acne.
Hormonal optionsOral estrogen / progesterone (birth control) can be helpful in many women with acne. Another safe option for women is spironolactone, a weak diuretic with anti-androgen (anti-male hormone) benefit.
ExtractionIn treatment resistant cases, individual whiteheads and blackheads can be carefully removed with a comedone extractor.
IsotretinoinWidely known by its former branded name Accutane, isotretinoin is still available for treatment recalcitrant and/or severe nodulocystic acne. This medication can only be prescribed with enrollment in the iPLEDGE program.
Acne treatment regimen
Depending on the symptoms, Dr. Saucier may recommend one or a combination of therapies for a customized acne treatment regimen. Read more about Dr. Saucier here.
Contact our office to schedule an appointment to discuss acne treatment options.
- Actinic Keratoses
- Athlete's Foot
- Contact Dermatitis
- Hair Loss
- Keratosis Pilaris
- Nail Problems
- Skin Cancer
- Wound Care
"We love Rockwall Dermatology! I have taken my son to other derms in the area, but they just couldn't get rid of his acne. Dr. Saucier is amazing and got his acne cleared up in no time. Dr. Saucier was understanding about making the regamin simple for my 15 year old son. I recommend her to everyone! We are lucky to have such a great doctor in Rockwall!"Read more