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A Beginner's Guide to Acne

Updated: Sep 13, 2020



Acne is the most common skin disease in North America. It usually begins in adolescence, but can occur at any age, even affecting adults in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Luckily, there are many acne treatments available today which allows us to customize each patient’s anti-acne regimen to fit their specific needs.


Acne beginning in adolescence is the most common. Prescription topical agents are a great first line choice as they are safe, effective, and easy to use. Prescription combination topical agents are available, where two different anti-acne medications are mixed together into one tube. When these agents are insufficient to control a teen’s acne, chemical peels can be implemented into a patient’s regimen. These in office procedures require little to no downtime but dramatically improve acne by cleaning out pores and removing excess oil and skin debris. Other non-traditional anti-acne therapies like Photodynaminc Therapy can be popular with teens as well because these treatments help to clear acne more quickly than prescription medications alone. Oral medications such as antibiotics are also prescribed to teens with stubborn or more severe acne and yield excellent results.


Treating acne that continues into adulthood can be more challenging. Often the persistence of acne combined with the start of wrinkles causes frustration in patients. SkinCeuticals make an excellent product called Blemish + Age Defense that treats both acne and signs of aging. 2% Dioic Acid kills p. acnes (the bacteria that causes blemishes), and a combination of Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Beta Hydroxy Acids reduces the appearance of pore sizes while also minimizing fine lines and wrinkles.


When topical agents are not enough to control adult acne, oral medications are used. Adult women with cystic acne often benefit from an oral hormone modifier called spironolactone. Spironolactone is an anti-androgen drug which helps limit hormonal fluctuations in women, which can contribute to acne. Another oral medication used to treat adult acne is isotretinoin. Isotretinoin, also called Accutane, is the most effective drug on the market to treat acne, and can cure acne in some patients. It works by decreasing the size and output of sebaceous glands.


Our armamentarium of acne treatments is always expanding, which allows us to effectively treat acne at any age. We use a personalized approach to every patient’s acne in order to match their exact needs.


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