Acne is a common problem, affecting mostly teens and young adults, and, in severe cases, can lead to scarring. It is caused when oil and dead skin plug up a hair follicle, allowing bacteria to grow. This causes inflammation, usually seen as a pimple. Squeezing the pimple can lead to scarring, which occurs more commonly in the deeper inflammation pockets of cystic acne (see photo).
One’s risk of developing acne increases if there is a family history of this problem. Acne gets worse during flairs of stress, periods of hormonal changes such as menstruation and when oil based makeup or sunblock are used. It is not caused by dirt, chocolate or greasy foods.
Contrary to widespread belief, scrubbing the face hard with soap does not treat acne, and can make the inflammation worse. Over-the-counter preparations such as products that contain benzoyl peroxide and/or salicylic acid are first line therapies and are usually quite effective for mild acne. Give these preparations at least two months of continuous use before determining if they are effective or not. Physician care is recommended if improvement is not seen by this time or the acne starts off as moderate to severe. In these cases, prescription medications are often prescribed in combination with the above OTC preparations and include tretinoin (ie: Retin A), certain birth control pills and antibiotics taken either orally and/or applied to the face. Accutane is reserved for the most serious cases due to its potential for serious side effects…..Richard R Samuel, MD Family Practice and Urgent Care Hayden, ID USA