Concern – Acne

Acne is not only a distressing part of adolescence, it can continue on into adulthood. But there are ways to help prevent and treat the condition.

Almost every teenager gets spots and zits at one time or other. They’re so common they’re considered to be a normal part of adolescence.

Although many people think that ‘acne’ only indicates a severe condition, it is actually a medical term for pimples.

Up to 85 per cent of Australians will develop acne during their life, with approximately 5 per cent experiencing severe acne. Nearly half of men and women continue to experience acne into their thirties. Severe acne can be painful, distressing and embarrassing – affecting relationships and a person’s sense of self.

While there is no shortage of treatments available, many of them are useless and some are actually harmful. Effective treatments do exist, and it’s important to know about them, because treating acne reduces the likelihood of permanent scarring.

Causes

The medical term for acne is acne vulgaris. It’s a disease of the skin that occurs when something goes wrong with the production of sebum in the skin and the flow of this sebum to the skin surface.

Birth of a pimple: A whitehead, for example, is formed when the normal flow of sebum is blocked, causing sebum to build up behind the blockage, which forms a swelling and eventually protrudes up into the skin.

Sebum is the waxy oily substance that keeps the skin waterproof. It’s produced in tiny sebaceous glands in the skin, which are connected to hair follicles (pores that carry shafts of hair). The sebum travels from the sebaceous glands up to the skin in these pores.

Hair follicles can be blocked by dead skin cells, which can cause a build up of sebum. This can cause inflammation – pain, redness, and swelling. Bacteria may invade the area, and pus can form.

This whole process causes different types of sores and blemishes depending on the stage of the cycle. Someone with acne may have one or more of the following:

  • blackheads – these are blocked pores: the blackhead is the collection of dead cells in the pore (the blackness is not dirt, just discolouration)
  • whiteheads – sebum is building up behind the blockage causing a lump, which hasn’t opened into the skin
  • papules – the sebum has broken out into the layers beneath the surface of the skin and caused inflammation, so it appears as painful reddish lumps
  • pustules – the inflammation has turned into pus and broken through to the skin to form a yellowish zit – the classic ‘pimple’
  • cysts and nodules – these are lumps deeper in the skin caused by hardening of the tissues left over from inflammation in the skin. Cysts and nodules can be very painful.
  • open sores – usually pimples that have been scratched, exposing them to the air
  • scars – pockmarked, sometimes darkened, areas of skin left after large pustules (and sometimes even small pimples) have healed.


Birth of a pimple: A whitehead, for example, is formed when the normal flow of sebum is blocked, causing sebum to build up behind the blockage, which forms a swelling and eventually protrudes up into the skin.

The more advanced the process is, the more likely it is to scar. In severe cases it can be permanent and disfiguring.

Acne tends to be more common in areas that have the most sebum-producing pores in the skin – the face, neck, chest and back.

Sex hormones, especially the male sex hormones called androgens, accelerate the production of sebum. During the teen years, levels of sex hormones rise, which is why acne is more common in this age group.

Acne can also be caused by taking extra hormones in the form of anabolic steroids (illegally used for body-building), corticosteroid medication and some hormone treatments. It’s also seen in some women who have a condition that affects the ovaries called polycystic ovarian syndrome.

There are plenty of myths about what causes acne. What does make acne worse is:

  • Picking or squeezing the spots. This tends to spread the sebum and pus deeper into the skin, causing more inflammation, delaying healing and increasing the likelihood of scarring.
  • Scrubbing or using abrasive lotions on the skin.

Although the chocolate and acne myth is considered to be debunked, one recent study suggests that diet may in fact play a role in acne formation.

The small 2007 study suggest that replacing high glycaemic index (high-GI) foods in your diet with low-GI foods may help reduce acne. Low-GI foods take longer to digest and absorb into the blood stream.

The researchers hypothesise that eating high-GI carbohydrates, which are digested quickly, results in high insulin levels in the blood. A high insulin level does two things in relation to acne: it increases a molecule (insulin-like growth factor 1) that blocks sebaceous glands, and it increases the amount of circulating androgens (male sex hormones), which stimulate the production of sebum. Both these effects may contribute to acne.

It’s important to note, however, that these conclusions are controversial and have not been confirmed by other studies.

Treatment

Skin Revival offer a range of different treatments which will be prescribed to you based on your grade of acne. The most common treatments we preform on acne skin types are from the below:

– Enzyme Treatments
Gentle exfoliating treatment mask that helps lift off blackheads, unclogging pores of debris and excess oil

– LED Light Therapy
A skincare treatment that uses varying wavelengths of light, including red, blue, yellow, green and NIR to target specific skin conditions.

– Glavanic
Uses direct galvanic electrical current to introduce water-soluble substances through the skins surface to help improve ingredient absorption and moisture retention

– Hydrobrasion
Exfoliation of dead skin cells with a gentle micro tip which also releases water onto the skin to help rehydrate whilst exfoliating at the same time

– Sonophoresis
Non- invasive treatment that uses ultrasonic (soundwave) technology which increases the penetration and absorption of products. The warm tip massaging the skin increases skin circulation.

– Diamond Dermbrasion
Accelerates the exfoliation of dead skin cells which in turn stimulates new cell growth and the renewal of collagen. Using a gentle vacuuming system and diamond tips, microdermabrasion removes dull, dead skin cells, unclogs pores and polishes the skin.

– High Frequency
Using a glass high frequency electrode to treat mild acne, shrink enlarged pores, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and bacteria in acne lesions

– Rationale Gommage
A light exfoliation mask containing lactic acid to help break down dead skin cells and decongest pores.

– Mandalic Acid Peel
Mandelic peel is derived from bitter almonds. Works to decongest the skin by deeply exfoliating and cleaning the pores. Anti-inflammatory which assist with acne skin, rosacea or any skin type that needs hydration.

– Salycylic Acid Peel
Salyclylic peels can improve the appearance of enlarged pores and fine lines and wrinkles. Great for acne skin or any skin type that has mild- severe congestion in the pores. Helps to clear out and rehydrate the skin, working from the inside out.

– Glycolic Peel
Glycolic peels help to shrink the appearance of enlarged pores, assist with acne skins and acne scarring to decongest pores. Reduces the effects of sun damaged skin, increases collagen production.

– Extractions
Manual extractions of acne lesions or with the assistance of blackhead removal tools. Helps to remove trappied oil in the pores, leaving the skin with a smoother texture.

– Treatment Masks
Treatment masks are used in professional treatments to help decongest the skin, hydrate, be left on for you to go home in, contains actives to help remove dead skin cells, anti-inflammatory to help inflammation in the skin which drives acne.

Scar Revision Treatments

Once your skin has cleared of Active Acne, your clinician will work on clearing any remaining scaring or pigmentation.

These treatments include Laser Genesis and Dermal Needling, and are spaced out to 4-6 weeks per treatment.

 

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Acne information sourced from ABC Fact Files – Reviewed by Professor Alan Cooper from the University of Sydney