Blackheads, Cysts, and Zits, Oh My!
- Posted on: Apr 3 2017
Among all of the different patients we encounter and the various treatments we offer in the office, acne presents as one of the most common skin conditions we treat at HDC. From pre-teens to mature adults, acne is much more common than you may ever imagine. In fact, in the world of Dermatology, it sometimes feels like an acne jungle out there, where everyone seems to be fighting an acne breakout. Blackheads, cysts, and zits, oh my! What is acne, and how can you win the pimple battle?
Most everyone in the human population has experienced that nagging zit or cyst that explodes on the face out of nowhere, and it usually happens at the most inopportune times. But then again, is there ever a good time for an acne breakout? In the office, we’ve seen everything from huge, painful cysts to hormonal zitty breakouts to nagging, pesky blackheads and whiteheads, and everything in between. But rest assured, at HDC, Dr. Honet and her staff have a myriad of tricks up our sleeves to help you get on the road to clear, beautiful skin. From skincare products, prescription creams and gels, oral medications, and all kinds of in-office treatments like chemical peels, lasers, and microdermabrasion, we have yet to face a breakout we cannot help clear up.
You may think that you are the only one dealing with those nagging, offensive blemishes on your skin, but according to the American Academy of Dermatology, 40-50 million Americans are dealing with acne at any given time. In fact, in 2011, Americans spent over $400 million dollars a year on over-the counter acne treatments. Who knows how much we will be spending this year in 2017? Those are mind-boggling, staggering statistics! Although the old school way of thinking is that most everyone “grows out” of acne, the consequences of emotional suffering, poor self-esteem, and permanent scarring can take an immense toll on an individual. That’s why early intervention and treatment, no matter the age, are key to effective prevention and control.
Acne is based on a variety of factors including genetics, hormones, poor skincare, and very occasionally diet. You can thank your parents, old Uncle Joe, or even sweet Cousin Susie for many things, and acne unfortunately is one of them. If a close blood relative suffered from acne, it’s more likely that you’ll be affected by it as well. For women, in all age groups, fluctuating hormone levels can also be a culprit, where an imbalance in hormones leads to an increase in oil production. In fact, we often see just as many middle-aged women suffering form acne as we do teenagers. This increased oil in your skin, which is exquisitely tied to hormonal fluctuations, combined with a very annoying acne-causing bacterium called Propionibacterium acnes (or P. acnes for short), clogs pores and causes breakouts. Diet doesn’t seem to have much impact on acne, except perhaps skim milk being a possible trigger in highly sensitive individuals. And of course, proper skincare, good hygiene, and the use of skincare and prescription products are the key to success when it comes to acne. Unfortunately, many over-the-counter cosmetics contain ingredients that may potentially plug pores, trigger breakouts, and even cause such significant irritation to actually worsen skin health and breakouts. A huge factor to controlling acne no matter your age is keeping up with your daily skincare including gentle cleansing and moisturizing twice a day. This consistency in and attention to skincare can make the world of difference.
The treatment of acne isn’t limited to just topical creams, serums, and lotions. Almost all of our acne patients are on prescription topical and oral medications as directed by Dr. Honet, but that’s just the beginning. Cleansers, moisturizers, and in-office treatments also play a huge role in clearing up our patients and getting their skin healthy and beautiful again. In any skincare regimen, whether you suffer from acne or not, cleansing your face every day, twice a day is absolutely essential. Not only are there a lot of cleansers that we love, there are also numerous cleansers to meet the needs of every skin type. The many options available among cleansers range from over-the-counter, drug-store brands to some higher-end, multi-tasking choices we sell in the office. Some of our favorites include Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser, Cetaphil DermaControl Oil-Control Foam Wash, CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser, Avene Clean Ac Cleansing Cream, Avene Oil-Free Gel Cleanser, Replenix Gly/Sal 2-2 Foaming Cleanser, and Restorsea Reviving Cleanser. Dr. Honet always talks about starting with a clean and fresh canvas, so that any moisturizers, prescription creams, and topical treatments that follow have access to the most optimal skin surface on which to work their magic.
When it comes to prescription topicals, compliance is a huge deal. In order to see the best results, you must use the medications Dr. Honet prescribes for you as directed and regularly. Most often, treatment failures are not because of the medication not working, but rather are usually due to inconsistent and intermittent use by the patient, what we fondly call noncompliance. Many acne medications are likely to potentially dry your skin out at the beginning of the treatment course, so we find that many patients give up right when they should be plowing ahead. Not only is patience essential at this time, you also should allow and help your skin to overcome the dryness and get used to the topical medication. Acne doesn’t happen overnight and neither does its successful treatment and clearance. As you can imagine, hydration is key to help your skin to adjust to the new prescription treatments. Using moisturizers liberally at this time is like a much–needed crutch or boost to help your skin to adjust successfully.
Just like cleansers, there are numerous moisturizer options ranging from drug-store brands to department store alternatives to our cosmeceutical-grade options. Although more often than not, you do get what you pay for, the bottom line is that when selecting moisturizers or makeup, you should always look for the word “noncomedogenic,” which means that the skincare product has been tested to not clog pores and not cause acne. A few of our favorites include Cerave AM and Cerave PM Moisturizing Lotions, Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel, Replenix Pure Hydration Hyaluronic Acid Serum, Replenix Elite Facial Cream Ultra Lite, and SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore. Plus, don’t forget to use your sunscreen. Many prescription and over-the-counter acne treatments may make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so make sure that your morning moisturizer contains a broad-spectrum SPF of 30-45 or higher.
Beyond the topical basics, there are numerous in-office treatment options we offer that can boost and enhance your at-home regimen. Our SilkPeel DermalInfusion system is an excellent treatment for acne-prone skin and acne scarring. The 3-in-1 technology of the SilkPeel treatment microdermabrades the skin while infusing medicated solutions formulated to help fight acne and acne scarring. It also simultaneously works to extract blackheads and whiteheads, while reducing the appearance of your pores. This effectively translates to keeping your skin looking its best. If acne scarring is an issue, our Ellipse Nordlys laser beautifully treats and reduces its appearance with little to no downtime or pain. Another treatment option for acne-prone skin is the Enerpeel by Glytone. These chemical peels use specialized acids to target redness, pigmentation, and scarring from acne. Finally, for the occasional big, fat zit or two, Dr. Honet can extract and inject them and literally make them almost melt away by the next day.
Let Dr. Honet, HDC’s experienced, board-certified dermatologist, and our well-trained staff customize a specialized treatment plan for you to handle your acne and skincare needs. Whether it’s a teenage breakout or a huge “mature” pimple before an important social event, remember that we are here to guide the way to healthier, more beautiful skin. Don’t wait to “grow out” of your acne, because let’s face it, it may never happen without some help. Contact our office and ask us about which treatment options for clearer skin are possible for you.
Happy, Healthy Skin!
–Senada and Dr. H