Acne occurs when the oil glands in the skin become blocked, usually by the cells that line the channels that enable oil to travel from the ducts to the skin's surface. During the initial stage of acne, these blockages cause comedones or “white heads” to form. Black heads are simply white heads that have changed color once exposed to the air. The oil and cellular debris trapped inside the oil ducts soon become colonized with bacteria, which grow and multiply, producing irritating chemicals that cause the area to become inflamed, swollen and red. Over time, these inflammatory lesions can break and leak their contents into surrounding tissues causing tender red nodules or cysts. Patients who develop cystic acne are far more likely to experience tissue damage that can lead to scarring. Acne can also be caused or exacerbated by other factors like hormonal fluctuations and use of some types of medications.
In addition to white heads, black heads, and cysts, acne can cause flaking and scaling, pimples (pustules) and papules (sometimes called “pinheads”). Many people with moderate to severe acne or acne scars suffer significant emotional trauma and depression.
Acne can develop just about anywhere on the body, but it's much more likely to occur on the face, chest, back and shoulders where the densest numbers of oil glands are found. It's also more common during adolescence when hormonal activity is at its peak.
Palos Verde Dermatology Associates uses the most advanced treatment options for patients with acne, developing long-term strategies that evolve with the patient's individual needs to reduce breakouts as well as reduce the risk of scarring. Most acne treatments include the use of one or more oral or topical prescription medications, sometimes combined with chemical peels and microdermabrasion treatments to unblock follicles and improve cellular turnover. Every treatment plan begins with a thorough evaluation of the patient's skin, symptoms, medical history and lifestyle factors to ensure optimal results. Regular office visits are essential in keeping acne breakouts under control.