Dr. Eric Schweiger, M.D.
Founder of Clear Clinic and Board certified dermatologist Dr. Eric Schweiger, M.D. answers your acne related questions! Have a question? Fill our the form on the right and Dr. Schweiger will answer your question right away!
Does acne run in families (is it genetic)?
A gene causing acne has not yet been found, but evidence shows us that acne likely has some genetic predilection. We find patients with a family history of severe acne are more likely to have severe acne themselves. But just because your mom or dad had acne, does not mean that you have to just accept fate. There are many actions to take to treat and manage acne breakouts regardless of family history. With the right knowledge, treatments and products, you do not need to let history repeat itself.
What sunscreens are best for patients with acne prone skin?
The variety of sunscreens available at your local drugstore can often be intimidating. There are many great sunscreens for people with acne-prone skin, but it is important to know what you are looking for. Patients with acne are often using acne medications, such as retinoids or oral antibiotics, which make their skin more susceptible to sunburn. In-office procedures for the treatment of acne, such as photodynamic therapy, also make the skin very sensitive to the sun. The most important thing for a patient with acne to look for when purchasing a sunscreen is the phrase “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic.” This means that the sunscreen has been tested and proven not to contribute to the formation of acne lesions. Mineral sunblocks may also be less irritating to acne-prone skin than chemical sunscreens. It is important that the sunscreen provide both UVA and UVB protection.
Do teenagers outgrow their acne?
As teenagers grow older, their hormones and the hormonal influences on their skin change. Usually acne decreases as the androgenic influence of puberty decreases in the late teens and early twenties. However, hormones are not the only cause of acne, and some teenagers do not see improvement in their acne as they get older. In addition, some people get acne for the first time in their twenties, after never having acne in high school. It is important to treat acne promptly whenever it presents; simply waiting to outgrow acne can lead to permanent scars and years of active acne.
Is there a difference between adult acne and teenage acne?
The same causative agents that lead to acne formation form both adult and teenage acne. At Clear Clinic we notice adults have drier skin, so we often avoid prescribing medications that are overly drying in our adult population. We also prescribe our adult patients an acne-fighting medication with anti-aging benefits, such as retinoids. For these reasons, it is best to use a gentle but still effective treatment regimen for adult acne patients.
What can I do to prevent myself from picking at my acne?
If a simple admonition from yourself, a person close to you or a doctor does not get you to stop picking at your acne by simply telling you, you may be suffering from a skin-picking condition called neurotic excoriation. These are called body-focused repetitive-behaviors (BFRBs): repetitive self-grooming behaviors in which pulling, picking, biting or scraping of the hair, skin or nails result in damage to the body. These troubles can be similar in certain ways to obsessive-compulsive disorder and often include elements of perfectionism. Those with BFRBs often experience a physical or emotional urge to pull or pick and a feeling of tension or boredom commonly triggers the behavior, resulting in fleeting pleasure, gratification or relief while engaging in the pulling/picking that quickly can turn to self-directed anger or guilt afterward. With BFRBs often comes shame, secrecy, isolation, and interference with intimate relationships, avoidance of activities one would otherwise pursue as well as possible interference with work or study.
How does salicylic acid work?
Salicylic acid is a “keratolytic agent,” meaning it’s a peeling agent that helps remove the top layer of the skin. Salicylic acid also helps shed cells inside the hair follicles, which in turn prevent the pores from clogging and keeps them free of debris. Salicylic acid can help reduce whiteheads and blackheads. Salicylic acid concentrations approved for use in over the counter treatments for acne fall between 0.5 percent to 2 percent. The negative side of salicylic acid is that it can cause stinging and skin irritations, such as cracking and redness.
How does benzoyl peroxide work?
After all of these years, benzoyl peroxide still remains one of the top acne medications. Available in both over-the-counter and prescription formulations, it is a treatment that nearly everyone with acne has tried at some point. Benzoyl peroxide works by adding oxygen to the pores, which kills the bacteria responsible for acne (Propionibacterium Acnes). Like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide also helps clear the pores of cellular debris. Benzoyl peroxide products generally come in non-prescription concentrations of 2.5 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent. Side effects can include dryness, redness and flaking. There is evidence that 2.5% benzoyl peroxide actually has the same effectiveness as 10%, just with decreased side effects.