Acne Information Long Island
Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. Although it is common, accurate information about acne can be scarce. This can make it difficult to get clearer skin. The information on this site can help you understand acne and how to successfully treat it. Myths about acne are as common as the skin problem.
We know that letting acne runs its course is not always the best advice. Here’s why:
- 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.
Not just teens have acne. A growing number of women have acne in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond. We are not sure why this is happening, but we understand that adult acne can be particularly frustrating.
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).
Acne is most commonly found on the face, but it can appear on other areas of the body, including the back, chest, neck, shoulders, upper arms and buttocks.
Acne can cause more than blemishes. Studies show that people who have acne can have:
- 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 us if you get acne. Treating acne before cysts and nodules appear can prevent scars.
To diagnose acne, wet will first examine your skin to make sure you have acne. Other skin conditions can look like acne. If you have acne, we will:
- Grade the acne. Grade 1 is mild acne. Grade 4 is severe acne.
- Note what type, or types, of acne appear on your skin.
Today, there are many effective acne treatments. This does not mean that every acne treatment works for everyone who has acne. But it does mean that virtually every case of acne can be controlled.
People who have mild acne have a few blemishes. They may have whiteheads, blackheads, papules, and/or pustules (aka pimples). Many people can treat mild acne with products that you can buy without a prescription. A product containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid often clears the skin. This does not mean that the acne will clear overnight.
You can reduce your acne by following these skin care tips from dermatologists.
- Wash twice a day and after sweating. Perspiration, especially when wearing a hat or helmet, can make acne worse, so wash your skin as soon as possible after sweating.
- Use your fingertips to apply a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser. Using a washcloth, mesh sponge or anything else can irritate the skin.
- Be gentle with your skin. Use gentle products, such as those that are alcohol-free. Do not use products that irritate your skin, which may include astringents, toners and exfoliants. Dry, red skin makes acne appear worse.
- Scrubbing your skin can make acne worse. Avoid the temptation to scrub your skin.
- Rinse with lukewarm water.
- Shampoo regularly. If you have oily hair, shampoo daily.
- Let your skin heal naturally. If you pick, pop or squeeze your acne, your skin will take longer to clear and you increase the risk of getting acne scars.
- Keep your hands off your face. Touching your skin throughout the day can cause flare-ups.
- Stay out of the sun and tanning beds. Tanning damages you skin. In addition, some acne medications make the skin very sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light, which you get from both the sun and indoor tanning devices.
Using tanning beds increases your risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75 percent.
- Consult a dermatologist if:
- Your acne makes you shy or embarrassed.
- The products you’ve tried have not worked.
- Your acne is leaving scars or darkening your skin.
Despite the claims, acne treatment does not work overnight. At-home treatment requires 4-8 weeks to see improvement. Once acne clears, you must continue to treat the skin to prevent breakouts.
If you have a lot of acne, cysts, or nodules, a medicine that you can buy without a prescription may not work. If you want to see clearer skin, you should see us. We offer the following types of treatment:
Acne treatment that you apply to the skin: Most acne treatments are applied to the skin. We call this topical treatment. There are many topical acne treatments. Some topicals help kill the bacteria. Others work on reducing the oil. The topical medicine may contain a retinoid, prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide, antibiotic, or even salicylic acid. We will determine what you need.
Acne treatment that works throughout the body: Medicine that works throughout the body may be necessary when you have red, swollen types of acne. This type of treatment is usually necessary to treat acne cysts and nodules. We may prescribe one or more of these:
- Antibiotics (helps to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation).
- Birth control pills and other medicine that works on hormones (can be helpful for women).
- Isotretinoin (the only treatment that works on all that causes acne).
Brand names: Absorica®, Accutane®, Amnesteem®, Claravis®, Myorisan®, Sotret®, and Zenatane™
Isotretinoin (eye-soh-tret-in-OH-in) is a prescription medicine for severe acne. This type of acne causes deep, painful cysts and nodules. These can be the size of a pencil eraser — or larger. As this acne clears, scars often appear.
One course of treatment takes about 5 to 7 months. Sometimes, one course of treatment takes less time or a bit more time. We tailor the treatment to each patient.
Due to possible side effects, we can only prescribe this medicine if you:
- Enroll in iPLEDGE, a program from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- See your dermatologist for follow-up visits.
- Sign forms that state you know the risks of taking isotretinoin.
Patients who can become pregnant must take a few extra precautions:
- Take required pregnancy tests before and while taking isotretinoin.
- Avoid getting pregnant.
- Patient safety is our first concern. If this medicine is an option for you, we will talk with you about how to take this medicine safely and what you can expect. We should jointly decide whether this medicine is right for you.
If isotretinoin is an appropriate treatment for you, you will be under close medical supervision while you take this medicine.
Severe acne can be difficult to treat. When other treatments fail to clear the skin, isotretinoin may be an option. About 85% of patients see permanently clear skin after one course of treatment with isotretinoin.
About 85% of patients see their skin permanently clear after one course of treatment. A course of treatment generally lasts about 5 to 7 months. It can run shorter or longer.
Some patients do not clear after one course of treatment, and a second course of treatment may be an option. Studies show this helps some patients see clear skin. You should wait at least 8 weeks between treatments. The skin often continues to clear for a while after patients stop taking the medicine.
This medicine comes in pill form. You will take one or two pills a day based on your weight.
Before taking isotretinoin, you must enroll in the iPLEDGE Program. Created by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this program helps to ensure that patients:
- Do not start taking isotretinoin while pregnant.
- Do not become pregnant while taking isotretinoin.
- Because iPLEDGE informs patients about other possible side effects, all patients must enroll in this program before taking isotretinoin.
How does isotretinoin work?
This is the only acne treatment that attacks all four causes of acne — excess oil production, clogged pores in the skin, too much of the bacteria P. acnes, and inflammation. This makes isotretinoin very effective.
Do I need to take any precautions while using isotretinoin?
Yes. You will need to learn about the potential side effects before you decide whether to take isotretinoin.
If we decide that this medicine is right for you, you will need to do the following:
- Enroll in the iPLEDGE program.
- Return for a visit every month for a follow-up appointment, and obtain monthly blood tests.
- Immediately report any possible side effect to us.
- Do not wax to remove hair while taking this medicine — and for 6 months after you stop taking isotretinoin.
- Protect your skin from the sun and do not use a tanning bed, sun lamp, or other indoor tanning device.
- Do not donate blood while taking isotretinoin and for 30 days after you take your last pill.
Patients who can get pregnant also need to take the following precautions:
- Take the required pregnancy tests.
- Use 2 approved forms of birth control.
What are possible side effects?
A number of possible side effects can occur while taking this medicine. It is essential that a woman not take this medicine while pregnant and not become pregnant while taking this medicine. Isotretinoin can cause:
- Severe birth defects.
- Miscarriage (baby dies before birth).
- Premature birth.
Other potential side effects include:
- Depression: A connection between taking isotretinoin and developing symptoms of depression/anxiety has been suggested. We take reports of depression seriously. Results from some studies, however, show that sometimes patients treated with isotretinoin have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. These patients also have improved quality of life.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): There have been reports of patients developing IBD after taking isotretinoin. IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. To date, research has not found strong evidence to prove this. Results from a recent, large-scale study that looked at this possible connection suggest otherwise. In this study, which involved thousands of patients, taking isotretinoin did not increase the risk of IBD.
- The risk of developing IBD may be linked to having severe acne. More studies are required.
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or suicide: Research is needed to find out whether these would have occurred if the person had not been taking isotretinoin.
Other serious side effects that have been reported include:
- Bad headache.
- Blurred vision.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Seizures (convulsions).
More common and less serious side effects are:
- Dry eyes.
- Dry skin.
- Chapped lips.
- Nasal passage so dry that nosebleeds occur.
- Diminished ability to see in the dark.
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