Acne is the most common skin condition in the world. 80 percent of all people experience an acne breakout at some point in their lives, most often during their teenage years. About 40–50 million Americans have acne at any given time.
Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It causes whiteheads, pimples, or blackheads.
If you’re trying to treat acne or just proactively working against it, then here’s some general information that could be of assistance in choosing an acne expert in Washington DC.
What Types Of Acne Are There?
There is non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne. Non-inflammatory acne includes whiteheads and blackheads. They are the least severe forms of acne and are easier to treat than inflammatory acne types since they don’t leave behind scars so long as you don’t pick at them. Inflammatory acne is more severe than non-inflammatory acne and may cause complications such as scarring. This acne type includes papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts.
What Are Whiteheads And Blackheads?
Whiteheads are small and white spots or bumps, hence the name. They usually have a white, circular center surrounded by a red halo. The skin around a whitehead may become tight or wrinkled, especially if the whitehead is particularly large. This type of acne doesn’t cause acne scarring and is one of the least severe.
Blackheads are simply whiteheads that are exposed to air. When the trapped oil makes contact with the air, the blockage turns dark.
What Are Papules And Pustules?
Papules are bumps under the skin’s surface and have no visible center. They develop when whiteheads cause irritation and damage some of the surrounding skin, which leads to inflammation.
Pustules are large bumps with a defined circular center that is filled with pus. They typically look like large and more inflamed whiteheads that have visible red inflammation in the surrounding skin.
What Are Cysts And Nodules?
Cysts and nodules are the growth of abnormal tissue and develop below the skin. They can also develop in deeper skin tissues or internal organs. These acne lesions are large and painful and often leave scars.
What Are The Levels Of Severity?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology there is no set system of the grading of acne, though generally you can group them into mild, moderate, or severe. Mild acne is the most common. It includes blackheads and whiteheads. If you only have a few clogged pores or they’re in an isolated spot, your acne is “mild.” Moderate acne means you have more pimples than blackheads or whiteheads.
With this type of acne, you may notice that some of your pimples have red skin or inflammation around them. Moderately severe acne includes numerous papules and pustules and occasional inflamed nodules. They may also occur on the chest and back. Severe acne is when you have nothing but pimples, both those that are small bumps and those that are yellowish and filled with pus. Additionally, severe acne can include nodules or cysts.
What To Do To Start Treating Acne
The general rule of thumb is that the earlier you start treatment, the less likely you are to have scars. There are many over-the-counter treatments, but if you’ve used them for several weeks or more with no improvement, it’s time to see an acne doctor. A dermatologist works to treat the acne you have, prevent further breakouts to avoid further scarring, and provide treatment to make your scars less noticeable.
You have several options available to you when it comes to treatment. Your acne dermatologist will review each in detail. Depending on the severity of your acne, they will guide you through treatment options that are best for you.
What Are The Methods To Treat Acne?
Topical medications are the standard of care for mild and moderate acne and can prevent new outbreaks. They require at least six to eight weeks before any improvement is seen. Topical treatments include retinoids, antimicrobials, sulfur, or dapsone. The most commonly available topical retinoids are tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene. The most common side effect is irritation with erythema and scaling.
Antimicrobials are effective in treating inflammatory skin conditions. They include benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics and have moderate comedolytic and anti-inflammatory properties. Sulfur is a natural component that helps reduce skin oiliness and prevents pore blockage. Dapsone is a medication that possesses both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s successfully employed in the management of moderate to severe acne.
An acne dermatologist will also use oral medications, especially when your acne isn’t responding to topical medications. These include antibiotics to control inflammation and bacteria growth, combined oral contraceptives, an anti-androgen agent, or the drug isotretinoin (Accutane). Your doctor can explain what each does and what the risks are.
What Are Some Other Treatments?
Chemical peels are used for the treatment of acne and other skin disorders. They have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory effects and are also able to reduce sebum production.
Whitehead and blackhead extractions are a part of facial acne treatment. First, an acne specialist prepares the skin by lightly steaming the area. Your acne doctor may also exfoliate the skin before extractions begin. This helps prepare the comedones and the pore for easier extraction. Next, the doctor does whitehead and blackhead extractions. This procedure, if done regularly, will help reduce acne breakouts.
If you’re ready to find an acne doctor near you who can treat your skin with the care and expertise you deserve, then contact DC Derm Docs today at 202-822-9591 to schedule your appointment as soon as possible!