What is acne and who gets it?
Most people with acne are aged between 12 and 25 but some older and younger people are affected. Acne usually affects the face but may also affect the back, neck and chest. The severity can range from mild to severe. About 8 in 10 teenagers develop some degree of acne. However, it is estimated that about 3 in 10 teenagers have acne bad enough to need treatment to prevent scarring.
Mild-to-moderate acne – blackheads, whiteheads and small pimples
Some pores become blocked (plugged). This is due to the skin at the top of the pores becoming thicker, combined with dead skin cells that are shed into the pores. You can see the plugs that block the top of the pores as tiny spots known as blackheads and whiteheads.Some sebum may collect under blocked pores. You can see this as small spots called pimples or papules. In some cases, acne does not progress beyond this mild-to-moderate stage when you can see a number of small pimples, blackheads and whiteheads.
Acne Cross Section
Moderate-to-severe acne – larger spots and inflammation
Trapped sebum is ideal for a germ (bacterium) called Propionibacterium acnes to live and multiply. Small numbers of this bacterium normally live on the skin and do no harm. However, if a large number develop in the trapped sebum, the immune system may react and cause inflammation. If inflammation develops, it causes the surrounding skin to become red and the spots become larger and filled with pus (pustules). In some cases the pustules become even larger and form into small nodules and cysts.
How Should People With Acne Care for Their Skin?
Here are some ways to care for skin if you have acne:
- Clean skin gently. Use a mild cleanser in the morning, evening, and after heavy workouts. Scrubbing the skin does not stop acne. It can even make the problem worse.
- Try not to touch your skin. People who squeeze, pinch, or pick their pimples can get scars or dark spots on their skin.
- Shave carefully. If you shave, you can try both electric and safety razors to see which works best. With safety razors, use a sharp blade. Also, it helps to soften your beard with soap and water before putting on shaving cream. Shave lightly and only when you have to.
- Stay out of the sun. Many acne medicines can make people more likely to sunburn.
- Choose makeup carefully. All makeup should be oil free. Look for the word “noncomedogenic” on the label. This means that the makeup will not clog up your pores. But some people still get acne even if they use these products.
Shampoo your hair regularly. If your hair is oily, you may need to shampoo daily.
What Things Can Make Acne Worse?
Some things can make acne worse:
- Changing hormone levels in teenage girls and adult women 2 to 7 days before their period starts
- Pressure from bike helmets, backpacks, or tight collars
- Pollution and high humidity
- Squeezing or picking at pimples
- Hard scrubbing of the skin
Treating acne scars
Procedures used to diminish scars left by acne include the following:
Soft tissue fillers: Injecting soft tissue fillers, such as collagen or fat, under the skin and into indented scars can fill out or stretch the skin. This makes the scars less noticeable. Results are temporary, so you would need to repeat the injections periodically. Side effects include temporary swelling, redness and bruising.
Chemical peels: High-potency acid is applied to your skin to remove the top layer and minimize deeper scars.
Dermabrasion: This procedure is usually reserved for more severe scarring. It involves sanding (planing) the surface layer of skin with a rotating brush. This helps blend acne scars into the surrounding skin.
Light therapy: Certain lasers, pulsed light sources and radiofrequency devices that don’t injure the epidermis can be used to treat scars. These treatments heat the dermis and cause new skin to form. After several treatments, acne scars may appear less noticeable. This treatment has shorter recovery times than some other methods. But you may need to repeat the procedure more often and results are subtle.
Dr.Sohana’s Skin & Laser Clinic offers industry leading treatment for acne with IPL laser treatment. In this sophisticated technology the laser is applied to the skin which encourages skin rejuvenation, accelerating the micro-circulation process, which helps to raise the active metabolism of the skin cells.
A sapphire crystal wavelength emits broad-spectrum light, which is applied to the surface of the skin. The energy travels harmlessly through the epidermis and dermis until it strikes the bacteria. Laser treatments target the porphyrins produced as part of the normal metabolism of acne bacteria, and rapidly destroys the bacteria without damaging the surrounding tissue on interaction. This destroys the acne bacteria in just a fraction of the time it typically takes for antibiotics to work, in most cases we have found, with remarkable results.
You will feel pulses of a sharp hot sensation as the laser light is passed over the skin. After the treatment the skin may appear pink, red and/or swollen immediately after the treatment, however this usually reduces over 24 – 48 hours. Inflammation (active redness) is a consequence of fibroblast collagen resulting in more elastic skin.
The advantage of this treatment is that it works in harmony with the skin, and respects the biological structure of the skin tissue and offers a safe alternative to strong medications associated side-effects.
With repeated treatments you should notice a steady improvement in the skin appearance. The frequency of treatment is usually every 2 to 4 weeks. IPL Laser treatment is usually very effective and we can in most cases achieve a dramatic difference within the first few treatments. We have found that on average most people require between 6 and 12 treatments for the optimum results however the results are individual in each case as everyone responds differently.