Many people don’t realize that pimples, those little red bumps causing big obstacles to smooth skin, are a form of acne. There are many different types of acne lesions: pimply red bumps, pus pimples, cysts, whiteheads, and blackheads to name a few. So chances are, you’re part of the 80 percent of people who have experienced acne at an early time in your life!
One of the most frustrating things is sticking to a skin care routine and still ending up with a breakout. Even if you’re washing your face twice a day, you may occasionally run into acne issues. Dr. Schultz explains, “Cleanliness (washing your skin twice a day) is helpful in terms of getting rid of oil, dirt, debris, and dead cells on the surface of your skin, but it won’t stop the root cause.”
The root cause of acne is excess oil deep down in your oil glands. This excess oil is then acted on by bacteria that gets on your skin and mixes with with the dead skin cells that build up in your pores every single day. Hormones also play a part in creating this excess oil in your glands. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, “Androgens, the male hormones present in both men and women, contributes to acne flares by overstimulating the oil glands and altering the development of skin cells that line hair follicles in the skin.” All of this can lead to two different types of acne: inflammatory and non-inflammatory.
If you’re dealing with the inflammatory kind of acne, you will be experiencing redness, swelling, and perhaps even be in some pain from acne cysts. You’ll have pimples, red pustules (pus pimples), and larger lesions because your sebaceous gland, another name for your oil gland and the duct that carries the oil to the surface of the skin, has flared up and become inflamed. Inflammatory acne’s life cycle is also a bit longer than other kinds of acne.
Treating acne of any kind is never a one size fits all solution. The treatment for inflammatory acne can range from requiring your dermatologist to use needles to help extract pus, to using antibiotics both internally and externally, to topical exfoliation treatments, all attempting to get the root cause of your excess oil production. Oral medications like antibiotics, birth control pills, Acutane, and medicines that interfere with the hormone testosterone are all possible treatments for your inflammatory acne
With non-inflammatory acne, you’ll see blackheads and whiteheads, also known as open and closed comedones. An open comedone, or blackhead, is essentially the duct from the oil gland and hair follicle that has become clogged with excess oil, dirt, debris and dead cells. That combination is what Dr. Schultz lovingly calls: pore sludge!
Because the follicle is open, its exposure to the air gives it a black/brown color. For closed comedones known as whiteheads, debris and excess oil is caught within the duct from the oil gland causing little bumps across your skin’s surface. Both of these kinds of non-inflammatory acne can be treated with daily glycolic exfoliation, and in some cases, extractions. Dr. Schultz emphasizes, “Glycolic helps acne heal faster and decreases breakouts because it decreases excess oil and removes clogging dead cells.”
Anyone who has experienced even just one zit has felt how it can impact your self-esteem. Dealing with acne can range from mildly embarrassing to totally debilitating. Dr. Schultz understands this and advises that no matter what kind of acne treatment your dermatologist prescribes for you, consistency will help you get on the road to clearer, healthier skin. Some people may have to come back in for appointments once a month or twice a month and at the beginning of your treatment, you may even be coming into the office every week. But it’s all worth it.
Dr. Schultz says, “When we look better, we feel better. Treating acne breakouts can do wonders for self-esteem and confidence. I’ve seen teenagers blossom like a flower into happy, outgoing, successful people. I’ve seen such a difference in how my patients feel when their acne has cleared up.”
Many times teenage acne will subside on its own, but for persistent acne in adults, it’s almost impossible to predict when it will vanish, and because it can persist into your forties and even fifties that’s when Dr. Schultz says, “Pimples meet wrinkles!” There are a few things that can make acne worse. Greasy makeup that adds oil to your already oily skin should be replaced with water-based or oil-free makeup.
A variety of medications can sometimes worsen acne. However, you should not stop any prescribed medication, but rather talk with your doctor to find the best solution for solving the medication-related acne. Acne can also develop under tight clothing when there is excess sweat or friction against the skin. And of course stress is such an important factor in adult acne. So if you’re dealing with adult acne, make sure along with your dermatologist-approved treatment, you’re watching out for those other culprits that may trap excess oil in your skin.
Most people associate acne with their teenage years. Although we know that adults can have acne, too, teenage acne issues are incredibly common. While most teenage acne resolves itself sooner than in adults, if severe acne goes untreated, there is the chance that your teen could have some scarring from it. Stress, changes in teenagers’ hormones, and poor hygiene can all affect teenage acne.
The best way to treat acne is to treat it consistently, however, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, “In a small study, dermatologists found that when parents reminded their teens every day to use their acne medicine, the approach backfired. The teens said the daily reminders felt like “nagging.” This caused the teens to use their acne treatment less often.” The good news is that the study also found teens were more likely to use their acne treatments right before and right after their dermatologist appointments. So keeping a consistent schedule with a doctor can help them keep their skin on track and get their confidence back.
Although we generally associate acne with oily skin, you may have patches of dry skin and still deal with acne. That’s because, in your skin, you have oil glands that make oil and water glands that make water. Dr. Schultz says, “Your oil glands can be overactive and your water glands can be underactive. Those underactive water glands can cause dry skin in certain areas, while the root cause of acne is excess oil in your oil glands. This combination of over-producing oil glands and under-producing water glands is considered, you guessed it, combination skin.”
There’s a 50/50 chance pregnancy will make your acne issues better or worse due to your altered hormonal state. Pregnancy could help resolve your acne or it could worsen it. Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict who the lucky first group will be. However, if you’re experiencing increased acne due to pregnancy, topical treatments like acne face washes and toners, as well as many spot treatments such as topical antibiotics and salicylic acid products are considered safe.
Dr. Schultz recommends at home glycolic products throughout pregnancy as a whole face treatment to help prevent breakouts, reduce oil, and help breakouts clear up faster. However, he advises, “The super cautious may not feel comfortable using anything but cleansers and toners in the first trimester, and of course you should use whatever you’re most comfortable with. And I can't stress enough, all retinoids must be avoided.” Cleaning out clogged pores and blemishes is also very helpful and need not be avoided in pregnancy. Whether done by a facialist or in a dermatology office, it results in faster resolution of pimples. As with all regimens, start with the simplest skin care solution and then build out to more involved treatments from there.
Shifting your daily cleansing routine even slightly can have a huge effect in preventing breakouts. Dr. Schultz says that “if you simply cleanse and tone twice a day, every day, that in and of itself can cause a 30-40% improvement in your skin.” To get an even better outcome, add daily exfoliation to your routine. You should be exfoliating every night at bedtime — but be warned, not all exfoliants will yield the same results.
Dr. Schultz believes that glycolic chemical exfoliants are the gold standard when they’re properly formulated. This is because they give a precise and predictable degree of exfoliant as compared to physical exfoliants which rely on you choosing the right amount and the right pressure for them to work. With chemical exfoliants, you don’t have to worry about getting the right amount of exfoliation because they’re formulated to work the same way every single time.
There are many dermatologists you could go to treat your acne issues, but at our office, you’ll get the most customized approach because we have such a wide variety of treatment options. Dr. Schultz, nicknamed the “Father of Glycolic”, has a special appreciation for the role daily glycolic exfoliation plays in clearing up acne-riddled skin.
Along with this understanding, Dr. Schultz and our team are open to a combination of oral and topical medications as well as topical antibiotics along with glycolic exfoliants to customize your approach to skin care. This flexibility means that the other products we’re using are more effective and start working sooner.
Another stand out element of our office is our emergency pimple policy. For anyone who is a patient with Dr. Schultz, if you get a cyst that you’re tempted to pick, you can stop into the office and we’ll clean out the cyst the same day. Our policy is that there’s no charge for regular patients because it’s very important to not pick your pimples! Our attentiveness to our patients’ progress in the office and at home is what makes all the difference in clearing up your unwanted acne.
Because every acne treatment will be different based on the severity of your issue, each appointment will depend on your skin. You most likely won’t need to prepare anything when you come in for your appointment. You’ll discuss with our team what’s going on and we’ll devise a customized plan based on your needs that may or may not involve topical treatments, oral treatments, or a combination of both. If you need an emergency pimple pop and you’re a regular patient, simply call the office and you can come in the same day, free of charge.
Yes. Treatment is individualized for each patient and targets the root causeRead More
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Make your skin care a priority with leading-dermatologist and New York Magazine’s “Top Doctor”: Dr. Neal Schultz.