Acne is the most common skin problem in the US, affecting 50 million Americans at some point in their life. Acne is classically thought of as a disease of teenagers, but many women have acne into their 30s, 40s, 50s and even later. It begins with the development of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples, and deeper lumps (cysts or nodules) that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and even the upper arms. There are often significant psychological side effects associated with acne including anxiety, depression and poor self-image.
The exact cause of acne is unknown, but there are three main factors common to the disease: a blockage in skin pores, excess oil, and acne-causing bacteria. In predisposed individuals, excess oil in causes the skin cells lining the pores to stick together and clog the pore. This leads to the formation of comedones (whiteheads and blackheads). Then, excess oil enables growth of the skin bacterium, Propionibacterium acnes. This bacterial overgrowth causes inflammation that is seen as a red bump (papule) or a pus bump (pustule). If the inflammation goes deep into the skin, an acne cyst or nodule appears. People who get acne cysts and nodules often see scars when the acne clears. Certain factors can aggravate or worsen acne including heredity, hormones, stress, creams/makeup and diet. It is very important to avoid squeezing or picking at acne lesions to minimize your risk of scarring.
Acne treatments include topical over the counter and prescription products, oral prescriptions, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, laser and light treatments. Seek professional dermatological treatment early as it may avoid or minimize unwanted complications such as scarring.
Topical Acne Treatment: There are many topical products, individually or in combination, that can be applied to the skin to help kill the bacteria or reduce the oil. These include:
Systemic Acne Treatment: Medicine that is taken by mouth may be necessary when you have red, swollen bumps or nodules, pus bumps or acne cysts.
Procedures that treat acne: There are procedures to treat your acne during an office visit. These procedures help when the acne does not respond to medicine or in addition to traditional medical therapies and can minimize the chance that the acne will leave dark spots in the skin or scarring.
Dr. Curcio specializes in Cosmetic and Laser Surgery. With her extensive experience, she can personalize a treatment regimen to help you attain the best possible result.