What is Acne
Acne can be a painful and socially embarrassing skin condition. Comedones are the key feature of acne. Comedones are commonly known as blackheads (open comedones) and whiteheads (closed comedones). Pustules, nodules and cysts can also occur and these can lead to scarring. While acne occurs mostly in teenagers, it can also occur in infants, adults and sometimes even the elderly. The most common type of acne suffered by teenagers and young adults is called acne vulgaris. In most patients, acne vulgaris usually resolves without treatment by the time people hit their early 30s. However, acne can often lead to scarring which can be difficult and costly to treat. If you notice scarring develop on your skin as a result of acne, see your dermatologist as soon as possible to receive appropriate treatment. Acne treatments offered will vary depending on numerous factors, which is why it is essential that your skin is assessed in context of your medical history and skin type.
What causes Acne?
The oil-producing machinery (sebaceous glands) in your skin is the primary problem in acne vulgaris. For various reasons, these glands produce more oil than necessary which then mixes with dead skin cells in the pores causing them to clog. This leads to the appearance of the blackhead. When bacteria called “P. acnes” grows in this suitable environment, inflammation occurs leading to red spots, pustules, whiteheads, nodules and cysts. When the inflammation is too great for the skin to cope with, this leads to scarring. It is for this reason that appropriate acne treatments are implemented early in the course acne.
For mild to moderate acne and congested or oily skin, sometimes all that is required is a good skin care regimen to follow. Some well developed and trusted cosmeceutical creams, cleansers and frequent medical grade acne-specific chemical peels can make all the difference for your acne. Dr Ayanda Motau would be pleased to assess your skin and recommend the right skin care regimen for you.
Various prescription creams can be used to prevent and/or treat for mild to moderate acne. These creams may contain antimicrobials, antibiotics, retinoids (vitamin A derivatives) as well as salicylic acid (beta-hydroxy acid), glycolic acid (alpha-hydroxy acid), sulphur and nicotinamide (Vitamin B3).
Sometimes prescription medications are required to combat acne effectively. Antibiotic tablets are often used and can be a very effective short term option whilst other treatments are started. Hormonal treatments can be added for female patients. Injections of cortisone can sometimes be used in larger acne lesions for quick relief. Dr Ayanda Motau can also prescribe an oral vitamin A derived medication, that can be used in more severe and resistant cases of acne.
Lights & Lasers
Some lasers can effectively be used to treat active acne. Lasers used in the right clinical context, with the right settings and in the hands of experts, can be used to improve acne more rapidly and reduce the redness of acne scarring more quickly. LED light treatments can also be used, but for improved effectiveness, requires a medicated cream to be applied just prior to the procedure.