UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – Whether you’re a teenager or an adult, you’ve probably experienced challenges with acne at some point in your life.

On this Aspirus Medical Monday, we spoke with Tom Raisanen, MD, a dermatologist for Aspirus Heath who helps better explain what causes acne and how to manage it.

“Acne is an extremely common, inflammatory condition that is caused by multiple factors. It affects up to 90% of people as they go through their teenage years,” said Raisanen.

Contributing factors leading to acne include genetics, hormones, stress, medications, and diet. Acne usually begins around puberty, when changing hormones trigger oil ducts to produce more of an oily substance called sebum which, along with skin cells, can then plug the pores. This initial blockage is the starting point for all the different types of acne blemishes that can then form.

The different types of acne issues include whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, pustules, cysts, and nodules. Some people can develop scarring from their acne. These scars are permanent changes in the texture of the skin which persist even after the acne is gone. Acne can also cause decreased self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.

Most people will eventually grow out of their acne; however, some people will continue to have acne well into adulthood. Females may have acne outbreaks due to hormonal fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle. During pregnancy, acne may get better, or it may get worse.

Your family history can also predict whether you get severe acne—it’s more likely if one of your parents had it. “If we know someone’s parents had really severe acne when they were growing up, it can be a good predictor of what that person may experience as well,” said Dr. Raisanen.

There are basic acne-friendly measures people can implement in their skincare regimens. Dr. Raisanen offers these suggestions:

  • Do gently wash your face and other affected skin twice a day with water and a gentle cleanser. This helps remove excess oils and dead skin cells.
  • Don’t scrub too hard or wash with hot water. This may irritate the skin and make acne worse.
  •  Don’t squeeze or pick a blemish. This can cause more inflammation and lead to a greater risk of scarring.
  • Do use non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic facial products (such as cosmetics, sunscreens, and moisturizers). Remove cosmetics at night with gentle cleansing of the face.
  • Do eat a healthy, varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins.

Acne is not curable, but it can be controlled, and most lasting problems can be prevented with a proactive approach. Early treatment can make a lifelong difference, both physically and emotionally. There are many different treatment options for acne, and the right treatment strategy can be best developed with the help of a board-certified dermatologist.

For more health information, tune in to Dr. Raisanen’s podcast about acne.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Raisanen, please call the Aspirus Houghton Clinic at 487.1710.

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