One thing’s for sure, acne is an annoying skin condition. Things like comedomes (blackheads), nodules, pustules, cysts and papules are all signs of acne. To find out more about the facts of acne, dermatologist Dr Erin Mullan from Specialist Clinics of Australia explains the causes and treatments of acne.
What is acne?
Acne is a multi-factorial inflammatory disease that forms when excess oil, inflammation and bacteria combine and cause a blockage in the sebaceous gland. The blockage then causes an acne lesion (a pimple).
How common is acne?
Acne is a skin condition that affects many people. In fact, 85% of people in Australia will develop acne at some stage of their lives. While acne is most common in those aged between 12-25 years of age, the condition can last well into your 30s and 40s. While there has been a lot of research into acne, it is still being researched.
What are the possible causes of acne?
There are many causes of acne including increased levels of androgen, a hormone found in both males and females. Androgen can contribute to acne flare ups due to the over stimulation of oil glands, which change the development of skin cells that line the hair follicles in the skin.
Women who have acne due to increased levels of androgen, or even an imbalance between oestrogen and androgen hormone levels may also have excessive facial hair, deepening voice or an infrequent menstrual cycle.
New or changing medications, including anabolic steroids can sometimes alter hormone levels and trigger an acne flare.
Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to acne. This means if your parents, brother or relatives have acne, you may be more likely to develop the condition yourself.
What treatments are suitable to reduce the effects of acne?
Dr Erin Mullan recommends a variety of options based on the type and cause of an individual’s acne:
- If acne is not severe, it can often be managed by prescription creams, but some people respond better to oral antibiotics in addition.
- If the cause of acne is hormonal, you may need to see an endocrinologist or in females a gynaecologist as treatment may need to address possible hormonal imbalances.
- For men and women with severe acne, a dermatologist may recommend a prescription GP’s can’t prescribe.
- Some sources of visible light help acne. An example of this which is offered at Specialist Clinics of Australia is the Triple Acne Combo Treatment which consists of a Pastelle laser, Blue Light Selective Therapy and a treatment peel to alleviate the symptoms of acne.
- RF Needling – Can help with mildly active acne with concurrent scarring.
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