Acne is the most common skin disorder in the United States affecting nearly 85% of all people at some point in their lives. Acne can occur at any stage of life but often begins in puberty with the development of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples, and deeper cysts that can occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and even the upper arms. In addition to these symptoms, there are often significant physical and psychological side effects associated with acne, such as permanent scarring, poor self-image, depression and anxiety.
The exact cause of acne is unknown, but there seems to be 3 main factors that can contribute to its severity: blocked pores, excessive sebum or oil production, and bacteria. In predisposed patients, the skin cells lining the pores stick together and form a plug on the skin surface, known as a white head or a black head. Subsequently, overactive sebaceous oil glands produce an excessive amount of oil which causes proliferation of the bacteria Cutibacterium acnes (previously known as Propionibacterium acnes) within the blocked pore. This bacterial overgrowth leads to inflammation which appears as red bumps or pustules. Certain factors can trigger or worsen acne, including genetic predisposition, diet, menstruation, hormones and stress.
Acne treatments include topical over the counter and prescription products, oral prescriptions, chemical peels, and laser and light treatments Isolaz and Photodynamic Therapy (PDT). Seek professional dermatological treatment early as it may avoid or minimize unwanted complications such as scarring.