Medical Dermatology


No wonder acne’s a four letter word. It’s just one of those things better left in high school, along with gym dances and experimental sideburns. If you’re an adult with this skin condition though, you may feel isolated and frustrated. In fact, acne is one of the most common skin problems among people of any age. It has been estimated that at one time or another over 90 percent of people have had acne, ranging in severity from a few blackheads or whiteheads to severe cysts.

Several factors contribute to its development, including heredity, hormonal fluctuations, overactive oil glands, bacteria accumulation, and clogged pores. In addition, emotional stress appears to stimulate oil production, which can lead to flare-ups. Despite popular belief to the contrary, scientific studies have failed to demonstrate a relationship between greasy foods and acne.

Caring for acne-prone skin

Acne isn’t a social death sentence. There are many ways to minimize the frequency and severity of break-outs. In general, liquid cleansers are better than solid bar soaps because liquids are less likely to clog pores. Cleansers with Glycolic Acid like Dr. Jessica Wu CosmeceuticalsTM Refining Cleanser can help exfoliate the skin and keep pores clear.

It’s also important to be gentle with your skin! You can’t scrub away acne, because it comes from deep inside, where oil builds up. Harsh scrubs and washcloths will only aggravate inflammations, spreading bacteria instead of clearing it.

Treatment of acne

For mild cases of blackheads or a few pimples, over-the-counter Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid products are often sufficient. A dermatologist can also prescribe topical antibiotics or creams. For moderate to severe acne, i.e. having many pimples and/or deep cysts, an oral antibiotic may be necessary. Some women who experience hormonal flare-ups of acne may respond to birth control pills. Finally, Accutane is a strong oral medication that is used for persistent acne that has failed to respond to antibiotics, or for severe, scarring acne on the face and torso. Accutane has a number of potentially serious side effects, including a high risk of birth defects if a woman becomes pregnant while taking the medication.

Also, be sure to use a broad-spectrum minimum SPF 30 sunscreen while taking acne medication. Some treatments, may make skin more sensitive to the sun. Who needs sunburn to top it all off?

In case of emergency

It’s like they know when to strike. The night before a job interview, or the first time you’re meeting his parents. Before you get trigger-happy and start squeezing a pimple into oblivion, remember that instant relief could leave a ghastly mark the next day — and a permanent scar. Instead, schedule a short appointment with a dermatologist, who can inject a diluted Cortisone solution that will dissolve the bump in a day or two. Also, a regular, preventive regimen of extractions, and light acne peels of Lipohydroxy acid (LHA) or Jessner Solution can help keep pores unclogged and skin generally smoother.