Did you know that about 85% of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience some acne? Are you aware that in addition to blemishes and potential scarring, acne can cause emotional stress due to its effect on self-esteem and self-confidence? As a board-certified dermatologist, acne is the commonest condition I treat.
When I assess your acne, I will determine the type of breakouts you are experiencing. Do you have mainly blackheads? Do you get pustules? Are you developing deep acne cysts? I will consider the location of your acne. Is it only on your face? Are you getting acne on your chest, shoulders, or back? Do you have acne scars or stains? Your family history of acne is important, as genetics may play a role in determining who is blessed with little acne and who wins the acne sweepstakes. I will want to know what type of treatment you have already tried. Based on my evaluation, I will give your acne a grade (I – IV), and work with you to start a treatment program.
Can acne be cured?
It’s important to have the right expectations of acne treatments. There is no cure for acne. The closest thing we have to a cure is the oral medication isotretinoin (aka Accutane). The goal of an acne program is to help you manage your acne.
For milder types of acne, topical therapy alone may be adequate. This is usually a combination of prescription creams or gels as well as OTCs (over the counter). For more severe grades of acne, oral medication is often required.
What clears acne overnight?
There are a plethora of myths surrounding acne. Remember to be skeptical when a social media influencer tells you to buy something. Be wary when your friend’s friend insists that rubbing potato or toothpaste on your face will cure acne. I don’t have a magic wand to cure acne overnight!
Below are my top 10 tips for helping you manage your acne:
- Keep Clean. Acne is not due to having dirty skin. But it is important to remove makeup, oil, and sweat once or twice a day. I will recommend a cleanser based on:
- your skin type
- type of acne you are experiencing
- the acne products I have prescribed
- Stop the pop. Although tempting, picking, squeezing, and popping your pimples is a no-no. Popping can make acne worse by releasing bacteria, and often creates scarring.
- Choose oil-free products. Look for the term “non-comedogenic” on the label, which means the makeup or skincare product doesn’t contain ingredients that can clog pores. I can recommend the right moisturizer for you.
- Don’t worry, be happy. It’s hard not to stress about your appearance and acne, or life in general. But stress releases the stress hormone cortisol, which increases acne.
- Protect your skin from sun damage. Did you know a sunburn will often trigger an acne breakout? Are you aware some acne medications may make you more sensitive to sunburning? I will recommend an appropriate sunscreen for your needs.
- Don’t over-exfoliate. Be careful not to over scrub your skin, as this can cause irritation.
- Sleep clean. Wash your pillowcase regularly. Your bed linens absorb oil, which can transfer to your face while you get your Zzzz’s.
- Hands off! Try not to touch your face repeatedly, as this may trigger more acne. Be mindful to clean your phone or headset, helmet or headband.
- Mind your hair products. Gels, oils, or pomades that transfer from your hair to your skin can make acne worse.
- Be patient! Improving acne takes time. Topical acne medication usually takes 8-12 weeks to do its thing. Follow the application instructions I have provided for the best results.
In Ontario, a consultation for acne with a dermatologist is covered by OHIP. You will need a written referral from your family doctor sent to my office in order to book a consultation.