Acne Treatment

Acne is a common skin condition which affects most of the individuals during their lifetime. Acne is a condition of inflammation that is triggered by the oil glands of the face; however, it can be seen on the shoulders, back and, chest. The common terms used for acne are pimples or zits. The skin may have lesions like bumps, blackheads, whiteheads, cysts or boils as part of the acne. Often, a person with acne has one or more of these at the same time. Dermatologists usually grade the severity of acne by checking which type of lesions are most prominent.

What are the different types of acne?

The first lesion of acne is a blackhead or a comedone. This is the block of the oil gland and is usually composed of skin cells and oil and not of dirt as commonly believed. If the block of the oil gland is deeper inside the skin, one can see whiteheads. Some people have red bumps with or without a head of pus known as papules and pustules. When these appear bigger in size they are known as cysts.

 Often, people with acne also develop large open pores and scars. These scars may be on the surface of the skin (appear red or darker than the normal skin) or may be elevated than the regular skin surface (hypertrophic scar) or depressed (atrophic scar). Scars symbolize long term structural damage to the skin.

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Frequently Asked Questions

We like to assist our clients with a knowledgeable and in-depth collective approach to answer for all your queries and fears with our FAQ mega-base.

Acne is a chronic (long-lasting) disease associated with the oil-producing glands. Acne can be seen on the face, back or shoulders, and chest area. The initial step of acne formation is the development of a blackhead. This is because of the blockage at the exit of the oil gland. Once this happens, the oil or sebum accumulates in the tract. The bacteria which worsen acne known as Propionibacterium acne start to proliferate in the sebum. Then, the inflammation of the skin causes pus formation. Depending on the severity, either a red bump or a pus-filled pimple develops.

 The formation of increased sebum and blackheads has definitely got a genetic predisposition. If individual parents had severe acne, then their offspring is likely to have severe acne too. Conditions such as increased junk food intake in the diet, including high sugars and dairy products (including protein supplements containing whey) also worsen acne. Obesity, lack of exercise, and physical activities also increase acne. In females, hormonal problems like delayed or irregular periods could signify Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and could worsen acne.

The treatment of acne starts with the examination by a dermatologist, and then the dermatologist grades the acne according to the severity of the problem. The treatment measures may differ from patient to patient according to the type and severity of the acne. A patient with blackheads would not get the same treatment as one with mostly large, painful, and cystic acne.
The treatment discussed here is based on the International and Indian Consensus Group recommendations for dealing with acne. Most dermatologists follow these steps to deliver the best measures to achieve good improvement in acne. However, lifestyle and diet form a very important part of this treatment. So any acne treatment is incomplete without the patient’s compliance to the prescribed diet and exercise regime.

Treatment Step 1: Medical treatment with creams and face washes which contain alpha hydroxyl acids, topical antibiotics, topical benzoyl peroxide, and retinoid creams form the mainstay of all grades of acne. These products help regulate the oil secretion and remove blackheads, and dry out the pustules. These can be used in all grades of acne.

Treatment Step 2: The second step in acne management is the use of oral antibiotics. These are indicated when the acne has more red and inflamed lesions. These antibiotics are given up to 3 months, however, if the acne does not respond, then hormonal evaluation is done. The dermatologist then decides to treat with their gold standard of care for acne or with hormonal pills if the hormonal issues are associated.

Treatment Option 3: When the dermatologist chooses oral antibiotics or gold standard of care, often they recommend treatments such as chemical peels and comedone extraction. These treatments are beneficial in multiple ways.

Chemical peels exfoliate the upper layer of the skin thereby allowing the comedones to be removed without pain. This helps the skin to look better immediately and helps dry out acne. Also, the pigmentation associated with acne reduces. The need for higher doses of anti-acne medicines also reduces with peels. The common chemical peels used in most dermatology clinics are Glycolic peels and Salicylic peels. These can be performed for face, shoulders, back or chest, depending on the area of involvement. They can be safely performed as a lunchtime procedure in the clinic, and have little or no downtime. Chemical peels like TCA peel, Black peel, and Retinol peels are very helpful in reducing acne scars and pigmentation.

Photofacials are another excellent treatment when it comes to reducing acne. This either uses an IPL device or a Q-YAG laser device to reduce the oil secretion of the skin. These help to reduce the redness of the scars and acne and give almost instant results. These are the useful quick fix for that last minute party.

Dermatologists usually grade acne according to the severity as Grade 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Grade 1 acne is usually comedones, or blackheads and white heads.

Grade 2 acne has more red, or inflamed pimples, with few blackheads.

Grade 3 acne has more pus filled acne.

Grade 4 acne is the nodulocystic acne, where the acne is of very large sized nodules or cysts.

The importance of grading acne is that it allows the dermatologist to follow the appropriate international guidelines in order to treat the acne.  

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Disclaimer- Dr. Dixit Cosmetic Dermatology reserves all the rights of this website. The information published on this website is correct to the best of our knowledge. However, this is generic in nature and does not apply to an individual case.