Understanding acne — types and treatment

RAPID CITY, S.D. — One of the most common skin conditions is acne, affecting people throughout their adult life. The normal stresses of life can make acne worse, and recent months may have impacted your stress and acne symptoms. While many forms of acne can be treated and managed with over the counter methods, there are so many options that it can be overwhelming to find the right treatment. Before it gets out of hand, it may be advisable to seek treatment recommendations from a specialist.

Dr. Melody Eide, a board-certified dermatologist at Rapid City Medical Center, says that many people are given advice about acne from friends and the media, but it is not easily understood. “Acne can be confusing and people are often giving advice on it so I think it’s important to speak with a dermatologist to understand how to treat acne and why we treat it the way we do. It can be confusing when you have different advice coming from family and friends.”

Medical conditions should always be addressed on a case-by-case basis and loved ones’ advice may not yield positive results for you. Waiting too long to seek medical advice can sometimes let the acne progress to an inflamed state that is more difficult to treat and more likely to result in scarring.

Acne severity is a spectrum, starting with a simple oil-plugged pore or follicle, and progressing to more serious, enflamed acne. “If the pores stay plugged,” Dr. Eide says, “bacteria and inflammatory mediators can progress to a more inflamed condition into something where bacteria, inflammation and white blood cells can cause the pore to develop into inflammatory papules or nodules.” Prevention is key in avoiding inflammatory acne and scarring, and Dr. Eide says there are simple things you can do in everyday life to reduce the likelihood of acne.

Surfaces that often touch your face such as masks or pillowcases can trap oil on the skin and make acne worse. Dr. Eide suggests regularly cleaning or swapping such materials to reduce the amount of trapped oil.

If you are having trouble with acne, it is also advised to understand the products you are putting on your skin. Daily moisturizers, sunscreens and makeup may be contributing to your acne problem. “For routine care products,” Dr. Eide says, “we usually suggest that if you are acne prone you make sure your daily moisturizer or your daily makeup, anything that’s going on your face should have the word ‘nonimmunogenic’ and often we suggest finding products that are oil free.”

If over the counter methods have not worked and you are suffering from inflammatory acne or acne scarring, there are still treatment plans available. Dr. Edie says that oral medications can be used to clear up severe cases of acne, and scars can be addressed with a variety of procedures at The Skin Institute at Rapid City Medical Center.

“It’s never, ever a lost cause,” Dr. Eide says. “One of the things I always tell my patients is that I know that part of their acne is the heartache of how it makes them feel, so when we treat their acne, we try to also empower them to feel better about themselves.”

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