Acne is a skin problem that begins about the time someone becomes a teenager and usually goes away as he or she gets older. Almost every teenager develops some acne, but some teenagers develop more pimples than others.
During the time that a person has acne, it can be made better but it cannot be cured. This means that medicines that can make acne better need to be used for a long time. This information sheet is meant to help you understand acne and how to make it better.
What Causes Acne?
Pimples begin in certain pores or openings in the skin. These pores have oil glands connected to them. At puberty, the time that you begin to grow into an adult, certain hormones (called androgens) cause the oil glands to become more active. This causes the sebaceous glands in the skin to produce more oil, which may cause acne.
You may have noticed that your skin became oilier before acne began. The oil and cells that line your skin pores stick together, causing a plug or block in the pore. The result is a blackhead or whitehead.
The blackhead is not dirt and scrubbing or washing will not remove it. Whiteheads are the beginnings of larger pimples.
Bacteria becomes trapped in these clogged pores, causing more inflammation. The oil in whiteheads may break through the pore wall and cause irritation under the skin, forming a pimple.
What Makes Acne Worse?
How Do We Treat Acne?
Acne does not go away overnight with treatment. It takes time - more time than you would like to unblock the pores. In fact, it takes 6 to 8 weeks using medicine before you see a change in your skin. Try to be patient. Do not give up too soon.
There are a number of medicines we may use. Some work better for some people than others. We need your help to tell us which ones work best f you. Sometimes we need to use more than or medicine.
Medicines Commonly Used To Treat Acne
Using Topical Medications
Many of the medicines used to treat acne (like benzoyl peroxide, tretinoin and certain antibiotics) are placed on the skin. There are a few basic rules about using these medicines:
How Long Must The Medicines Be Used?
Even though acne usually goes away as one gets older, it can last for years. How long you will need to use medicines depends on your skin. Remember, acne should not last forever, so be patient.
Content adapted from "Help your acne patients help themselves," by Walter W. Tunnessen, Jr., MD
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