Understanding the causes of acne and treatment options in Franklin, TN
Acne is one of the most common skin conditions that we see here at CoolSprings Laser, Aesthetic & Skin Care Center. Despite prevalent beliefs, acne is not just a teenage concern. It can affect anyone at any stage of life, although some people have a higher risk. Hormonal imbalance is among the primary causative factors, making adult women and puberty-age youth especially susceptible.
Causes and risk factors
Nearly everyone knows what acne is, yet few people understand it well. Myths, partial information, and unproven folk remedies abound. You’ve probably heard that all teenagers have acne, that it is caused by poor personal hygiene or junk food, that acne is just a patch of pimples… None of these are true, at least not entirely.
The medical cause of acne is clogged pores in the skin, which can create the ideal conditions for the proliferation of bacteria. Why do pores become clogged? That question is not so easy to answer – and preventing acne is not as simple as just keeping your face clean.
Oil (sebaceous) glands can become overactive, usually triggered by hormonal changes associated with puberty, pregnancy, or the menstrual cycle. Excess oil mixes with skin flakes and other debris, plugging pores and setting the stage for an acne breakout. Environmental factors, nutrition, skincare habits, and other factors may improve or worsen acne, but these things are rarely considered the underlying cause.
Anyone at any age can develop acne. However, some people have much greater odds of being affected. Researchers have identified several risk factors, including:
- Hormone levels – Androgens are a type of hormone that stimulates increased sebum production, which can lead to clogged pores. Pregnancy, puberty, medication such as oral contraceptives, and other factors can cause changes in a person’s hormone levels. Any of these conditions increase the risk of acne.
- Family history – Some people are genetically predisposed to acne. If your parents struggle with this condition, you may have inherited it.
- Frequent skin abrasion – Restrictive clothing, phones, headsets, helmets, or anything else that regularly causes pressure or friction in a certain area can increase the chance of an acne outbreak there.
- Oil – Contrary to common myths, eating greasy food has very little, if any, effect on acne. However, skin contact with any kind of grease or oil can contribute to the clogging of pores.
- Eating habits – The impact of diet on acne is currently an active area of scientific research. Although there is still much to learn, researchers have found some likely co-relations, but the problematic foods are not what you might expect. Those French fries actually might aggravate acne – because of the potatoes. Studies indicate that high carbohydrate foods, and possibly chocolate, may worsen acne symptoms.
Symptoms and diagnosis
You probably recognize the signs of acne, a condition that most people experience at least briefly in their lifetimes. The recurrent outbreaks, patches of pimples, and frequently oily skin are easily recognizable telltale signs. However, self-diagnosis is not always accurate, and “pimples” are not always caused by acne. Several other conditions, most notably rosacea, cause similar lumps in the skin and may be mistaken for acne.
Some people mistakenly believe they have acne and spend months or years trying to treat it with over the counter remedies, only to discover it was a different problem. If you are unsure about the nature of your skin condition, or if you are not seeing satisfactory results from your current treatment regimen, please visit us for a consultation and diagnostic examination.
The symptoms of acne include:
- Pimples – The best-known sign of acne, pimples are red, swollen, inflamed spots on the skin, usually filled with pus. They most often develop on the neck, back, chest, shoulders, and of course the face. In medical terminology, these are referred to as pustules.
- Blackheads – Clogged pores that have not closed off yet
- Whiteheads – Clogged pores that are closed off
- Nodules – Hard lumps beneath the skin, usually quite painful
- Cysts – Pockets of pus beneath the skin causing visible lumps
Medical treatment for acne
Despite the plethora of over-the-counter products available, many acne patients are unable to find relief through self-treatment. It can be extremely difficult to find the right treatment for your skin type without the guidance of a medical professional. Additionally, in many cases, these mild topical medications simply aren’t enough. We help our patients achieve and maintain clear skin with customized treatment regimens utilizing state-of-the-art procedures.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, the best treatment for each patient is determined after a clinical examination and in-depth discussion. The protocol may be revised as needed, depending on the individual’s response to prescribed therapies. Effective treatment and control of acne is possible, but it requires a commitment and cooperative effort between the patient and medical care team.
Your personalized acne solution may include one or more of the following:
- Oral antibiotics – Prescription antibiotics can be the fastest way to calm a severe outbreak, because it quickly reduces the infectious bacteria within clogged pores. These medicines are usually reserved for the worst cases, and only used for a short time.
- Chemical peels – The TCA peel is a very therapeutic and customizable treatment, which is performed right here in our office. The procedure only takes about half an hour, with minimal side effects. A series of several treatments may be needed for optimal improvement.
- Blue light therapy – This painless, noninvasive procedure combines photosynthesizing medications with therapeutic wavelengths of lights for powerful, targeted treatment.
- Topical medication – Salicylic acid helps break up sebum and clear pores, while azelaic acid has antibacterial properties. Some topical formulas also contain prescription antibacterial medication.
- Extractions – A trained aesthetician can safely extract blackheads or whiteheads from the skin, without risk of damaging or scarring. This is often done in conjunction with a chemical peel or facial.
If you have acne, acne scars, or other skin concerns, then we have beautiful solutions for you. Just visit CoolSprings Laser, Aesthetic & Skin Care Center for a consultation to find out how we can help you love your skin and body. Call (615) 656-4030 to schedule your appointment.