Acne, it’s a double whammy this time of year.
When it’s the beginning of October, teens and tweens are “faced” with a problem. It affects 85 percent of all teenagers, making it the prevalent problem of adolescence.
“Everyone gets it, but I have a lot of friends who have it worse than I do,” said 12-year-old Johnathan Trent of Valparaiso.
“The best thing to do is to wash your face as much as you can and watch what you eat.”
But according to Dr. Hilary Baldwin, dermatologist and president of the American Acne and Rosacea Society, lifestyle changes and new products can help young people reduce acne.
“This is one of the worst times of the year, because once you hit October, students have been dealing with the stress of the first month of back to school, and the result is acne breaking out,” she said.
Baldwin said ideally, the best hope is to stop problems before they start. She cites stress as a factor that sets off specific chemical and hormonal reactions in the body.
Some scientific evidence shows people who are “acne-prone” may experience increased oil production in pores. Along with the shedding of skin cells in the pore, and the presence of a bacteria called P.acnes, the ingredients help create acne.
“We have many more options today than were available to us to help patients 20 years ago,” Baldwin said.
“Ultimately, we want to kill the bacteria that develops under the skin to cause acne to form.”
One of the newest products, available by prescription, Dr. Baldwin recommends is from Coria Laboratories called Atralin Gel, which is prized not only because it contains benzoyl peroxide but also a patented combination of ingredients to hydrate the skin, reducing irritation.
As for over-the-counter options, a product with proven results is Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Eliminating Spot Gel, which contains ingredients clinically proven to clear congested pores.
Baldwin tells her young patients they shouldn’t blame their parents for bad skin, since acne is not “inherited.”
“There are so many studies and research in this subject, but much of it still remains inconclusive,” she said.
“Something we do know and are closely following, is why there are few or no cases of acne reported in undeveloped countries, and that’s where studies of lifestyle and diet are becoming increasingly important.”
There are two types of acne: noninflammatory and inflammatory.
Noninflammatory acne consists of whiteheads (closed comedo) and blackheads (open comedo). Inflammatory acne has four types of lesions: papules; pustules; nodules (cysts or pock marks); and acne conglobata.
Whiteheads occur when the plugged follicle stays below the skin, and appears as a small whitish bump.
When the plugged follicle pushes through the surface of the skin, it is called a blackhead. The plug’s dark appearance is not due to a build-up of dirt, but rather is a collection of melanin (the skin’s dark pigment).
Simple Acne – The most mild form of inflammatory acne is the papule, which is a small pinkish bump that is usually tender to the touch.
Worse Acne – Pustules, like papules, are round lesions with a red base and whitish center. Pustules do not commonly contain large amounts of bacteria. Instead the inflammation is caused by chemical irritations from substances such as fatty free acids.
Worst Acne – Large and painful, nodules are inflamed and pus-filled lesions lodged deep in the skin. Nodules are the most severe form of acne lesions, and may persist for weeks or months, their contents hardening into cysts. These often leave deep scars.
Inflamed Acne – Acne conglobata is a rare and serious form of inflammatory acne that develops primarily on the back, chest or buttocks. The pustules and nodules usually are accompanied by a severe bacterial infection.
About 85 percent of all teenagers develop acne. It is estimated that 1 in 4 adults between 25 and 44 experience acne, and nearly half of all adult women experience mild to moderate acne.
Astringent cleansers help prevent acne, because they reduce oiliness of the skin and pores.
Topical medication including benzoyl peroxide are usual types of antibiotics applied to the affected areas. Topical antibacterials, however, are not generally considered to be as effective as oral medication, especially for more severe acne cases.
The strongest oral medication available to treat acne is called Accutane, which must be taken under a dermatologist’s supervision. While Accutane can make a dramatic difference, the drug can produce side effects including depression, liver damage and birth defects if taken during pregnancy.
Acne is the most widespread skin condition in the world.