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  • Writer's pictureDr. Carin Litani

Let's Talk Acne

True or false? Acne is caused by poor hygiene.


Acne is not caused by being dirty.

Acne is so common – it effects millions of people around the world from teenagers to the more mature. It is a chronic problem, especially for women, and can flare at different stages of one’s life - like during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. It effects self-esteem. It’s so important to know what causes acne and that it is treatable in the right hands.

Acne is a multifactorial inflammatory process which simply means that there are a variety of factors that can combine to create the problem.

Here are some causes:

  • Oil glands in the skin can overproduce oil or sebum and clog the pores.

  • The way the skin sheds or keratinizes can be “off” and the extra skin gets sticky, especially with increased oil production, and further clogs pores.

  • Skin bacteria, mostly Propionibacterium acnes, growing inside the pores causes inflammation in the skin. This is further flared in the clogged pores.

  • Genetics affects acne so if it runs in your family, you are at risk.

  • Hormonal fluctuations (excess androgens or testosterone-like hormones) greatly flare acne.

Acne is 100% treatable and your board-certified dermatologist is the best doctor for the job! Mild acne can be managed with some OTC products and facials peels. More moderate acne needs prescription strength topicals and possibly an antibiotic or anti-hormonal agent. More severe acne that does not respond to these prescription topicals and oral agents may need to be treated with accutane/isotretinoin. Please DO NOT be scared of this medicine. It is a game changer! When managed on a monthly basis according to your weight, symptoms, and laboratory values, this drug clears your skin without any side effects except dry skin and lips. Yes, there are some people that are not candidates for this and your dermatologist will assess your candidacy.

Acne scars should not be treated until your inflammatory acne has cleared. Most red marks fade with time but certain lasers can speed that up. Indentations require more resurfacing lasers and subcision.

Let me know if you want any more information about acne medication and treatment.


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