Acne-More Than Meets the Eye

Acne is one of the most common conditions seen in a dermatology practice. There is the common belief that acne affects only teenagers. However, acne can affect males/females across the age spectrum. Common culprits for acne include stress, genetics, and hormones. Acne goes beyond the skin’s surface occurring as a result of increased oil production, plugged pores, dead skin cells, and bacterial growth. Acne may be more likely to affect the facial skin, chest, and back as excess oil production is common to occur to these locations.

Many over-the-counter and prescription products are available for acne, and treatment is based on an individualized approach. Dermatology remains exciting as new prescription products continue to become available for patients to help treat acne. The FDA has approved six medications for acne over the last two years. That being said, patients may feel very overwhelmed in where to begin. A mainstay for all patients is a gentle cleanser and moisturizer twice daily. Look for products to be oil free and noncomedogenic. I would then recommend an acne consultation so we can discuss further treatment options which may include a combination of topical or oral medications.

You may be wondering if acne is related to your diet. The role of diet and acne remains unclear. Foods that carry a low glycemic index may help to improve acne. The glycemic index looks at the way foods affect the body’s blood sugar. Foods that have a lower glycemic index can help maintain a more stable blood sugar, which could potentially lead to less inflammation in the skin and oil production. Cow’s milk may also result in more breakouts but not yogurt or cheese. More research is needed, so look for more information to come in the future about diet and acne.

And last, “maskne” has become a well known condition over the last year. In efforts to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, wearing a mask has become routine when being out in public and exposed to others. Chronic rubbing, friction, and moisture induced by masks have lead to acne breakouts. Dead skin, oil, and debris exist naturally on the skin, so adding a mask to the equation can create problems to include raised bumps, plugged pores, or general irritation to the skin. I recommend ensuring the material of the mask itself is not irritating your skin. Change your disposable mask daily, and if the mask is reusable, launder the mask in a scent free laundry detergent. Continue use of a gentle cleanser and moisturizer twice daily. Try and take a break from the mask at least every four hours to allow your skin to breathe. If your breakouts persist, notify our office to discuss further treatment options that may be indicated.

Acne can be very stressful for patients, and we are here to help guide you through the process. We want to help you find the best regimen and feel good about your skin and complexion. Happy, healthy skin remains our number one goal!

—Crista (Wilkening) Wenisch, CNP

Consider the skin care line we offer at our clinic called Elta MD. The gentle cleanser is an amino acid and enzyme based product that is well tolerated on all types of skin. This gentle foam can be used as part of your facial regimen in the morning and at night. For hydration, consider the Elta MD UV Clear moisturizer with an SPF of 46 that is formulated for acne prone skin. This product contains nicotinamide, hyaluronic acid and lactic acid that not only helps with hydration but helps to improve the overall appearance of your skin.