Acne - it has been the bane of teenagers for centuries. While still a terribly embarrassing problem that usually manifests itself at the most inopportune of times, such as a first date or your senior prom, the good news is that today almost every case and type of Acne can be resolved.
Though most often associated with the aforementioned teenagers, Acne is certainly not restricted to that age group. Acne is a broad term. Most people when they think of Acne, think of the typical pimples, whiteheads and blackheads that result due to clogged pores. But Acne can actually have more severe presentations of deep cysts or nodules. Acne most often occurs around the face and neck, upper arms and chest. Acne is not a life threatening condition to be sure, but even in its mildest form it can be embarrassing and cause social difficulties. In its more severe forms it can lead to scarring, and permanent disfigurement.
The Different Forms of AcneThere are various technical and lay terms used to define or describe Acne, and it can all get rather confusing. First of all, Acne is a lesion; let us first define a lesion: a lesion is any change in body tissue due to disease or trauma. A knife wound therefore is a skin lesion, as are all forms of Acne. Acne Lesions are categorized as:
Comedones – Comedones are the lesions most commonly thought of as Acne pimples. Comedones are clogged pores filled with dead cells and bacteria. The difference in appearance and colour has to do with how wide or narrow the opening of the plugged follicle is to the skin surface. Neither blackheads nor whiteheads should be picked or “popped”, unless under clinical conditions by a dermatologist or other medical professional.
Pustules – Are a domed shaped acne lesion usually filled with a mixture of dead white blood cells and bacteria.
Nodules – Acne nodules represent one of the more severe progressions of the condition. More serious than pustules, a nodule is usually inflamed and extends into the deeper surfaces below the skin. Even when healed, nodules, unlike pustules, can and do leave scars.
Cyst – An Acne Cyst is the most severe type of Acne lesion. Cysts and Nodules often occur together in the gravest form of Acne called nodulocystic acne. Untreated nodulocystic acne will almost surely leave scars.
Latest Acne TreatmentsThe good news is that today even the most severe forms of Acne can be treated effectively. The key to a treatment regimen to clearing up acne is twofold:
- Clearing existing acne lessons
- Preventing the formation of new acne lesions.
- Resolution of Acne can be a long process
- What works for one individual patient, may not work for another
- Professional medical intervention may be required
- Gently washing the effected skin with a mild soap to exfoliate, (remove dirt and dead skin cells)
- Use of an over the counter topical acne product. Be sure it contains benzoyl peroxide and or salicylic acid.
- Moderate or moderately severe acne described as a combination of whiteheads, blackheads, and pustules effecting more than a 1/4 area of the face or other skin surface, will usually require the intervention of a dermatologist or skincare specialist.
- Physical extraction methods or light therapy
- Prescription topical anti-microbials and retinoids
- Prescription oral antibiotics
- The deep cysts and lesions of severe or nodulocystic acne can only be effectively treated by a medical professional. Such treatments can include:
- Drainage and surgical removal
- Injection of corticosteriods
- Isotretinoin – which is a powerful prescription medication recently approved strictly for the treatment of nodulocystic acne or acne that has proven resistant to other treatments.