Acne and Rosacea Treatment
Although acne and rosacea are very different skin diseases in numerous ways, sometimes, they are positioned together because both skin conditions are commonly found on the face and may present very similarly in their mildest and earliest stages.
Acne is a common condition that results in blocked pores, black heads, whiteheads, pimples, cysts, nodules and scarring on the skin of the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and upper arms. Although teenagers are often affected, adults of any age and even newborns can suffer from acne. Acne is not life threatening, but can lead to physical disfigurement, emotional distress, and low self-esteem. There are multiple, effective treatment available that not only improve the skin’s appearance, but also prevent future breakouts.
Causes Of Acne
Acne develops when pores become clogged, either from an overproduction of oil, a buildup of bacteria, or an over-shedding of dead skin cells. When oil, bacteria or dead skin cells build up in the hair follicle, they form a soft plug that forces the follicle wall to bulge and protrude from the skin, causing a lesion. The cause of excess oil production is unknown, but is believed to involve a combination of several factors, including hormones, bacteria, genetics, and in some cases, the use of certain medications and makeup. Contrary to popular belief, chocolate, greasy foods and dirty skin do not cause acne.
Symptoms Of Acne
Although they can appear anywhere, symptoms of acne usually appear on the face, neck, shoulders, back, or chest. Symptoms of acne may include the following:
These symptoms can wax and wane and may flare up at certain times as a result of hormonal or environmental triggers such as pregnancy, menstrual periods, high levels of humidity, use of oily cosmetics or hair products, or taking certain medications. Patients should also avoid picking or squeezing blemishes, and should be aware of anything that comes in contact with the affected area, because it may contain harmful bacteria. Severe cases of acne may result in permanent scarring, which can have a long-term, damaging emotional effect on the sufferer. If acne symptoms do not respond to over-the-counter treatments, progressively worsens, or if scarring develops, a dermatologist should be consulted.
Treatment methods for acne aim to reduce oil production and increase the speed of skin-cell turnover to prevent new acne lesions from developing. Acne treatment also focuses on reducing inflammation to help treat current symptoms. Treatment may include a combination of prescription topical creams, gels, and ointments, as well as prescription oral medications that include antibiotics and oral contraceptives.
Topical creams and ointments applied to the affected area are often the first form of treatment used to treat acne. Over-the-counter creams and ointments, which are used to treat mild forms of acne, may contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or lactic acid as their active ingredient. Prescription topical treatments may contain higher concentrations of these active ingredients, as well as retinoic or azelaic acid.
Oral Prescription Medications
Moderate cases of acne can often be treated with prescription oral antibiotics, which reduce bacteria and inflammation. They are often combined with topical treatments, but the goal is to taper off the oral antibiotics as the topical treatments take effect.
Isotretinoin, formerly know also as Accutane, may be prescribed for severe cases of acne that do not respond to other treatment methods. Patients often have to fail conventional prescription anti-acne regimens before qualifying for isotretinoin treatment. iPledge is the federally-regulated registry and program for patients currently undergoing isotretinoin therapy.
Certain procedures may be recommended to treat scarring caused by acne. They include dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, laser treatment, and microneedling. Many patients experience effective results from these types of cosmetic treatments, which help to smooth the skin and imporve the scars sue to severe acne.
Although acne cannot always be prevented, there are certain ways to reduce the risk of breakouts. They include the following:
- Avoiding heavy or oily cosmetics
- Removing makeup before going to bed
- Cleaning the face twice a day using mild cleansers
- Avoiding sun exposure
- Avoiding constant touching or picking of the skin
Rosacea is a common, chronic skin condition that affects up to 10 percent of the population, although many people are unaware that they have it. It usually affects the face, causing redness and the formation of small, pus-filled bumps similar to acne, and, like other skin conditions, can cause emotional distress for the sufferer. Rosacea typically affects fair-skinned women between 30 and 60 years of age, and although more common in women, when it affects men, the condition is often greater in severity. It can first appear during menopause, and is more prevalent in people with a family history of the condition. Although rosacea is a chronic condition that cannot be cured, there are several treatments available to relieve its symptoms and prevent flare-ups. The specific causes of rosacea are unknown, but it is universally understood to be a combination of hereditary and environmental factors appears to be involved.
Triggers Of Rosacea Symptoms
Rosacea symptoms, which tend to worsen periodically and can wax and wane, can be triggered by the following:
- Hot or spicy food or drink
- Alcoholic beverages
- Extreme temperatures
- Hot baths or saunas
- Anger, embarrassment or stress
- Strenuous exercise
- Medications that dilate blood vessels
- Corticosteroids (such as prednisone)
Signs and Symptoms of Rosacea
The signs and symptoms rosacea are usually visible on the nose, cheeks, mouth and forehead. They can also occasionally spread to the neck, chest, scalp or ears. Symptoms typically come and go, flaring up for weeks or months, and then fading for a period of time. They tend to worsen as the condition progresses and are sometimes used to distinguish its four stages.
Pre-rosacea symptoms include frequent flushing or blushing, which progress to a persistent redness on the face. Vascular rosacea symptoms involve the swelling of small blood vessels (commonly referred to as spider veins and medically, as telangiectasia) around the nose and cheeks. Oily skin and dandruff-like dryness and scaling are also common during this phase. Inflammatory rosacea is the stage during which small bumps or pustules begin to develop. They then spread across the nose, cheeks, forehead and chin. Late rosacea is the most advanced phase, during which all earlier symptoms intensify.
If left untreated, symptoms continue to worsen, and may cause permanent skin damage. Some patients develop a form of the disorder that affects the eyes (Ocular Rosacea), and which may, in severe cases, affect vision. The symptoms of rosacea may include the following:
- Flushing or blushing easily
- Small red bumps or pustules
- Visible blood vessels
- Burning or stinging
- Dry, irritated, gritty eyes
- Red or swollen eyelids
In Late Rosacea, patients may develop a complication called rhinophyma in which facial tissue builds up and hardens, causing the nose to enlarge, scar, and become bulbous. This complication is more common in men than women.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Rosacea
Diagnosis of rosacea is typically made through a simple physical examination of the skin on the face by a dermatologist. Sometimes tests are administered to rule out other possible causes, such as eczema or lupus. Although there is no cure for rosacea, several treatments are available to relieve symptoms and prvent rapid progression of the disease. Through medical consultation, patients should be able to pinpoint at least some of their symptoms’ triggers and learn to avoid them. It may be necessary for them to avoid the sun, spicy foods, alcoholic beverages, or certain medications. Participation in a stress-management program may also be recommended.
Using makeup to disguise rosacea helps many sufferers feel less self-conscious. Medical treatments, the use of which depends on the severity of the condition, may include the following:
- Topical creams and gels
- Acne medications
- Laser therapy
For ocular rosacea, oral antibiotics and steroid eye drops may be prescribed.