Acne: A Common Culprit

Acne affects almost 17 million people in the United States, making it the most common skin problem in the country. A disease of the pilosebaceous units, or PSUs, acne lesions occur when hair follicles become plugged with oil and skin cells. Then, bacteria that normally exist on the skin multiply in the clogged pores, causing inflammation and redness.

People with acne may suffer from different types of acne lesions - including microcomedos, open comedos (blackheads) and closed comedos (whiteheads). More severe eruptions include nodules and cysts, which can cause pain and scarring.

Some factors that contribute to acne are genetics, hormonal fluctuations, certain drugs and environmental irritants such as greasy makeup or high humidity.

Acne can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medicines that reduce oil production and bacteria on the skin. In some cases, doctors may also prescribe oral medications to heal acne lesions and prevent new ones from forming.

For more information about acne, its causes and treatments, talk to your dermatologist.

Talking to Your Dermatologist About Acne

A visit to your dermatologist is an important step in treating acne, especially if over-the-counter medications haven't helped you. The first time you see a dermatologist about acne, he or she may ask you how long you've had acne, how you've tried treating it, and other questions about your general medical history. You can ask questions, too, such as:

  • What's causing my acne?
  • How do I know if it's mild, severe, or in-between?
  • What should I expect from the treatment I've been using?
  • How soon can I expect to see results from prescription treatments?
  • How do they work?

Before you leave your doctor's office, make sure you understand exactly how to use any medications your doctor prescribes.