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There are several types of acne: acne vulgaris (common acne), cystic acne and adult acne. It is a common and troublesome, but fully treatable condition. People of any age can get acne but it is most common in teenagers, young adults and some women in their 30s and 40s. Acne is caused by clogged pores (from the body’s oil production), bacteria on the skin (propionibacterium or P. acnes) and hormones. Stress, as well as other contributing factors, can lead to breakouts.

Signs and Symptoms

Acne most often appears on the face, but is also common on the back, chest and upper arms. It can show up on the skin as whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, cysts or a combination of any or all of these. Sometimes the spots can become inflamed leading to pain and discomfort. Acne often causes low self-esteem, especially in teenagers and young adults. Adult acne can be embarrassing and frustrating, especially for patients who work with the public.

Diagnosis and Treatment

At PBC Dermatology, acne is assessed for type and graded in severity before a treatment regimen is recommended. Many different treatments are available for all types of acne.  Topical treatments involve creams, lotions, washes (such as salicylic acid) and gels. These work in combination to kill the bacteria and reduce the oil production. Antibiotic pills often are given in addition to topicals. Isotretinoin pills are very effective and sometimes are used for resistant or severe acne. Adult acne in women may be treated with birth control pills and/or a pill that works on hormones. Upon your consultation, we can also recommend chemical peels and acne treatments administered by our paramedical esthetician or laser treatments. These typically are considered cosmetic dermatology treatments and are not covered by medical insurance. However PBC Dermatology offers various convenient payment options.

Outcomes and Follow-up

It can take 2-3 months to see improvements in acne after starting treatment. If no improvement is seen, different treatments can be tried. It is important that you avoid picking at pimples and to follow up regularly to prevent worsening acne. If left untreated for a significant amount of time, acne can leave scars or cause skin discolorations. An expert skincare provider at Associates in Dermatology can tailor a personalized plan of care that addresses your unique dermatological needs.