Myths about acne are as common as the skin problem. Acne can appear on the back, chest, neck, shoulders, upper arms and buttocks.One common myth is that you have to let acne run its course. Dermatologists know that letting acne runs its course is not always the best advice. Treatments include oral and topical medications, along with treatments using light and exfoliation. Depending on your skin type and the level of infection, your doctor will recommend a path of treatment that may combine several different treatments.
• Without treatment, dark spots and permanent scars can appear on the skin as acne clears.
• Treating acne often boosts a person’s self-esteem.
• Many effective treatments are available.
More adult women getting acne
Not just teens have acne. A growing number of women have acne in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond. Dermatologists are not sure why this is happening - it could be environmental, stress, hormonal or other changes. We understand that adult acne can be particularly frustrating. At any given time, 40-50 million Americans suffer from acne.
Many people think that acne is just pimples. But a person who has acne can have any of these blemishes:
- Pustules (what many people call pimples).
- Low self-esteem: Many people who have acne say that their acne makes them feel bad about themselves. Because of their acne, they do not want to be with friends. They miss school and work. Grades can slide, and absenteeism can become a problem because of their acne.
- Depression: Many people who have acne suffer from more than low self-esteem. Acne can lead to a medical condition called depression. The depression can be so bad that people think about what it would be like to commit suicide. Many studies have found that teens who believe that they have “bad” acne were likely to think about committing suicide.
- Dark spots on the skin: These spots appear when the acne heals. It can take months or years for dark spots to disappear.
- Scars (permanent): People who get acne cysts and nodules often see scars when the acne clears. You can prevent these scars. Be sure to see a dermatologist for treatment if you get acne early — between 8 and 12 years old. If someone in your family had acne cysts and nodules, you also should see a dermatologist if you get acne. Treating acne before cysts and nodules appear can prevent scars.
What causes acne?
Acne appears when a pore in our skin clogs. This clog begins with dead skin cells. Normally, dead skin cells rise to surface of the pore, and the body sheds the cells. When the body starts to make lots of sebum (see-bum), oil that keeps our skin from drying out, the dead skin cells can stick together inside the pore. Instead of rising to the surface, the cells become trapped inside the pore.
Sometimes bacteria that live on our skin, p. acnes, also get inside the clogged pore. Inside the pore, the bacteria have a perfect environment for multiplying very quickly. With loads of bacteria inside, the pore becomes inflamed (red and swollen). If the inflammation goes deep into the skin, an acne cyst or nodule appears.