Acne is the most common dermatological skin condition in the United States. It is characterized by pimples that appear on the face, back and chest. Every year, about 80% of adolescents have some form of acne and about 5% of adults experience acne.
Whiteheads or blackhead which are also known as comedones, are non-inflammatory and appear more on the face and shoulders. As long as they remain uninfected, they are unlikely to lead to scarring. The second type of blemish is called a papules and they are inflamed pores that fill with pus. These can lead to scarring.
In normal skin, oil glands under the skin, known as sebaceous glands, produce an oily substance called sebum. The sebum moves from the bottom to the top of each hair follicle and then spills out onto the surface of the skin, taking with it sloughed-off skin cells. With acne, the structure through which the sebum flows gets plugged up. This blockage traps sebum and sloughed-off cells below the skin, preventing them from being released onto the skin’s surface. If the pore’s opening is fully blocked, this produces a whitehead. If the pore’s opening is open, this produces blackheads. When either a whitehead or blackhead becomes inflammed, they can become red pustules or papules.
To reduce long-term scarring, it is important for patients to not to pick or scratch at individual lesions.
Treating acne is a relatively slow process; there is no quick fix remedy. Some treatments include:
Benzoyl Peroxide — Used in mild cases of acne, benzoyl peroxide reduces the blockages in the hair follicles.
Oral and Topical Antibiotics — Used to treat any infection in the pores.
Hormonal Treatments — Can be used for adult women with hormonally induced acne.
Tretinoin — A derivative of Vitamin A, tretinoin helps unplug the blocked-up material in whiteheads/blackheads. It has become a mainstay in the treatment of acne.
Extraction — Removal of whiteheads and blackheads using a small metal instrument that is centered on the comedone and pushed down, extruding the blocked pore.
BLU-U Light Photodynamic Therapy — is an FDA cleared treatment for moderate inflammatory acne vulgaris. If you have moderate acne and are uncomfortable taking antibiotics this treatment is a viable option.
NeoLTS Light Treatment for Acne — Phototherapy or light therapy consists of exposure to specific wavelengths of light. This is treatment is FDA cleared for a variety of dermatological conditions including reducing inflammatory acne, improving skin tone and clarity, promoting collagen and elastin and stimulates tissue production.
Photo Dynamic Therapy with Levulan — is a medical treatment that Levulan and a light source which activates the applied topical. This treatment is a quick and effective way to control acne and clear the skin. It does not require dangerous oral medication or long term dosing of antibiotics that requires strict compliance and can create antibiotic resistance and other complications. Photo Dynamic Therapy can also be performed with light only to control moderate acne. Treatments are easy as the patient simply sits with their face close to the light for approximately 15 minutes per session at a schedule determined by the dermatologist. Treatments are safe and not painful.