Acne: Is It Only a Teenage Problem? Clear Up Acne and Its Common Misconceptions

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Acne is the most common skin condition and is often mistaken to be an exclusively-teenage problem, along with a number of other myths. New York Dermatologist and Cosmetic Surgeon Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, M.D., gives some insight into acne, new treatment options, and the new age groups it’s affecting more frequently.

Each person needs a specialized treatment in order to avoid developing hard-to-treat acne scars down the road.

Pimples, bumps, unsightly redness and pock scars are all infamous signs that characterize the embarrassing skin condition known as acne. It’s a common misconception that acne is a problem that only teenagers have to deal with, when in fact nearly 12 million Americans suffer from acne well past adolescence. Research has also revealed that as more and more children are going through puberty earlier, dermatologists are seeing more pre-pubescent children with acne.

Acne is a common skin condition that results from three contributing factors: overproduction of oil, irregular shedding of dead skin, and bacteria build-up. The plugged pores create breakouts and lesions called pimples, zits, whiteheads, blackheads, nodules or cysts, depending on the severity of the acne. Acne most commonly appears on the face, neck, shoulders and back and affects the same amount of men as it does women, however, men tend to suffer for longer periods of time because of their higher testosterone levels. Usually when hormone levels stabilize in their mid-20s, the frequency of severe outbreaks lessens significantly.

But for those that have been plagued with bad genes, their battle with acne will continue long after pubescent years. Simple scrubs and facial cleansers aren’t going to cut it anymore. Instead a more long-term and ultimately life changing solution needs to be executed.

There are several different types of acne treatment approaches for acne and the success of each treatment depends upon the severity and type of acne. Treatments are applied directly to the skin or taken orally by mouth and work by addressing the overproduction of oil, skin cell turnover, bacterial infections, inflammation, or all of the symptoms at once.

The oral medication, Accutane, is one of the most popular acne treatments and works to dramatically reduce the size of the skin’s oil glands, which in turn reduces the amount of oil secretion. The amount of acne bacteria present in the skin decreases in response to a reduction in oil production. In addition, Accutane’s anti-inflammatory properties also help to smoothen and calm the skin and encourage healing from previous acne breakouts.

Retin-A is a medication used to treat comedonal acne, which is acne with both blackheads and whiteheads, and is available in cream or gel form by prescription only. People who experience post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation left behind from acne breakouts, have also found Retin-A has the ability to reduce the look of dark spots and discoloration. It works by speeding up cell turnover rates, which clears the skin and encourages healthier skin growth.

A different kind of treatment that has shown significant improvement in cystic acne patients is photodynamic light therapy. The non-invasive acne treatment has shown effective results in controlling cystic acne and to preventing scar formation. After a light absorbing agent is applied to the skin, light or laser is administered to the area of treatment. The light-absorbing agent allows better penetration of laser light into the skin and bacteria is killed in the intended area. Two to three treatments are necessary, depending upon the level of severity the patient is experiencing. Photodynamic light therapy also has anti-inflammatory properties. When combined with the V-Beam laser, redness of acne and acne scars also dramatically improves.

Another non-invasive approach to acne treatment is Isolaz, a laser that uses Photopneumatic technology and a pore cleansing vacuum to extract dirt, blackheads and the problematic excess oil found deep within the pores. Isolaz’s broadband light reduces the bacteria within the pores and ultimately reduces redness immediately after treatment. After treatment, the patient is left with cleaner, more purified skin, and once the skin is relieved of acne-causing bacteria the skin will reveal a smoother surface.

“Acne responds to different types of treatments, depending upon the person’s acne type and possible causes,” says Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, a fellowship-trained dermatologist who provides individualized care for patients with mild to severe acne. “Each person needs a specialized treatment in order to avoid developing hard-to-treat acne scars down the road.”

Finally, there is an effective treatment for skin that has been damaged by acne scars. Fractional resurfacing is a non-invasive laser treatment that works by emitting micro-damage into the skin in order to stimulate new, healthy collagen growth. Dr. Rokhsar also has extensive experience with the treatment of acne scars and has published the first report on acne scar treatment with fractional resurfacing. The proper care and treatment of acne is important to avoid scarring in the first place.

There are many common misconceptions that need to be cleared up before acne can be correctly treated. The most common misconceptions can seem harmless, but have the ability to cause serious damage to acne sufferer’s skin if blindly followed.

1.    Tan Acne Away: Not only is baking in the sun an ineffective way to reduce acne, but it also puts a person at risk for developing skin cancer. When skin becomes darker, it may mask some of the redness that comes along with acne, but it is only temporary and does not solve the problem. The skin can burn, which causes it to become dry and flaky. This makes tanning an ineffective treatment approach, and will actually do more harm than good. Even if a sunscreen with at least a protection level of SPF 30, it could still be harmful. It’s important to make sure the sunscreen is also noncomedogenic, nonacnegenic and oil-free, otherwise it will clog the pores and worsen acne.

2.    Let Acne Run Its Course: It’s not a good idea to leave acne untreated. Without treatment, acne can leave a person with dark spots and permanent scars that could have easily been avoided had it been treated with the proper care and attention it demanded. Ignoring the presence of acne can worsen the skin condition, especially if an individual’s daily skincare isn’t adjusted to the skin’s new needs.

3.    The Popping Pimple Treatment: Popping pimples will not make them less noticeable, in fact, it will only encourage irritation, which puts the skin in risk of infection and future acne scars that are more permanent and difficult to treat.

4.    Wash Your Face More: Yes, of course it’s important to maintain good hygiene routines to remove dead skin cells, excess oil, and dirt from the surface. However, it’s not beneficial to over-wash and scrub the face because it will only irritate the skin and make acne worse. Stay away from scrubs, exfoliants and products that contain alcohol because they will only dry the skin. Instead, wash the face twice a day with mild soap or cleanser, then gently pat the skin dry with a soft towel.

5.    It’s Only A Pubescent Phase: One of the most popular misconceptions about acne is that it exclusively affects teenagers. Although acne affects teenagers more often, adults and children are not exempt. In recent years, pre-adolescent children have been going through puberty earlier, which means acne is affecting the younger age groups. Puberty causes a rise in hormones that makes the skin and hair oilier, which contributes to clogged pores, and is why acne frequently affects hormone-imbalanced teenagers.

Figuring out how to have a clear complexion can seem overwhelming, especially with all of the advice available today, some of which may be conflicting. It is important to separate truth from myth in order to provide an individual with the best skincare possible, because acne is embarrassing and there are solutions available for all skin types and ages.

Dr. Cameron K. Rokhsar, M.D., is the leading authority in laser surgery and non-invasive techniques, Dr. Rokhsar, has extensive training and expertise in the field of skin resurfacing, tightening and scar treatment. A graduate of Harvard and New York University, Dr. Rokhsar is a fellowship-trained dermatologist and laser surgeon, and extensively published medical author, and Professor of Dermatology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. His offices are located in New York City and Garden City, Long Island.

For more information please contact: Samantha Olson (212) 285-1110.

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Cameron Rokhsar
NY Cosmetic Skin & Laser Surgery Center
+1 (516) 512-7616
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