We know how tempting it is to want to use your own fingers to get rid of a zit. Whether it’s a fully formed whitehead or an inflamed red bump, most people believe that they can make it disappear with just a few squeezes. But that’s never the case. While it’s hard to resist temptation, you should know all of the facts before attempting to pop your zit. If you try and take matters into your own hands, you will risk leaving a permanent mark that will take much more time and effort to conceal and get rid of than the original zit. Secondly, the bacteria in the zit–and on your fingers–could cause much more damage than good if you try and pop the pimple. That bacteria could get pushed further down into the skin and cause a cyst–which would be much worse-looking than the zit you tried to pop. So what’s the best thing to do when temptation rises? Sit it out and apply some topical acne medications or if you have an important event, make an appointment for a cortisone injection.
Many of our female patients tell us that acne during pregnancy is a frustrating problem for them. Not only are many of these women having acne for the first time in their life, but they are unable to use many of the medications that are commonly used to treat acne. Dr. Schweiger explains that, “Many of the medications that are traditionally used to treat acne are not approved for use during pregnancy.”
So what can our female patients do during pregnancy? Though their options are limited, there are still many treatment options that are considered to be safe. A medication called Finacea, which is pregnancy category B, is often prescribed to women before and during pregnancy. In-office procedures such as medical facials, the Isolaz pore-cleansing and antibacterial laser and LED Light Therapy are generally safe for most pregnant women.
A new report proposes a link between acne and ADHD. The findings, which have not yet undergone the peer-review process, were presented at the annual American Academy of Dermatology meeting last week. The teenager that has acne and ADHD will look the same as the teen who has acne but does not have ADHD. You will know if your teenager has ADHD by their inability to focus at school. Acne has previously been linked to depression–and with good reason. Acne can cause major self-esteem issues which can lead to depression. But this is the first time acne has been shown to have a link to another psychological problem. Teens who suffer from acne can seek effective treatments via Blue Light Therapy and topical antibiotics.
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. Many great sunscreens are non-comedogenic. Dr. Schweiger recommends Elta MD UV Clear, La Roche Posay Anthelios with Mexoryl, and Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch with Helioplex for his acne patients. He has also formulated his own sunscreen for acne-prone skin, called CompleteMe AM, and a tinted moisturizer with SPF 45.
According to a news report, adult acne is on the rise, especially for females. A 2008 study out of the University of Alabama found that more than 50 percent of women between the ages of 20-29 have acne and more than 25 percent between the ages of 40-49 are affected with acne. A 2011 clinical survey from Massachusetts General Hospital showed that 45 percent of women 20-29 and 12 percent of women 41-50 suffer from acne.
Hormones are the big culprits for these breakouts. When women get older, their levels of androgens surge. This hormone can play a large role in sebum production and how quickly the skin sheds its cells, which can lead to acne flare-ups. While oral medications containing retinoids and birth control pills can help with breakouts, those remedies are sometimes not the best answer for women in this age group, especially if they want to get pregnant. The best–and most effective–ways to treat acne for women in this age group are through Blue Light Therapy, cortisone injections and Isolaz.
Recent recommendations from the South Beach Symposium, published in Skin & Allergy News, reiterate the importance of treating inflammatory acne early in patients with skin of color. Darker skin types are more susceptible to a type of acne scarring called post-inflammatory pigmentation. Post-inflammatory pigmentation presents as dark spots left behind after inflammatory acne lesions resolve. Dr. Schweiger explains that, “Inflammatory acne in skin of color should be treated aggressively, as prolonged inflammation increases the risk of post-inflammatory pigmentation.” Dr. Schweiger recommends a combination treatment with topical antimicrobials and topical retinoids, in addition to oral medications when appropriate. In-office treatments, such as Photodynamic Therapy and Isolaz Treatment, can address both active acne and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation in order to decrease the risk of scarring.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can be treated with a combination of topical medications, such as hydroquinone or Tazorac, chemical peels and the Fraxel Laser treatment. The Fraxel Laser treatment is the most effective treatment for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Four treatments are generally required to decrease the appearance of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The Fraxel Laser also treats other types of acne scarring, such as atrophic (“pitted”) acne scars.
Many patients present to the Clear Clinic looking for a “quick fix” in the days before an important meeting or a first date. They have tried at-home spot treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These treatments can be helpful, but are often not enough to eliminate the pimple swiftly. They may sometimes leave irritation on the skin, which can be more difficult to cover than the acne lesion itself.
Acne specialists at the Clear Clinic leave same-day appointments available for last minute acne emergencies like this. A small, relatively painless, injection of a medication called triamcinolone (aka “cortisone injection”) can be used to decrease the appearance of the unwanted acne lesion in just 24 hours. This is a fast and effective treatment that is covered by most insurance plans.
The acne product market is full of creams and cleansers, but did you know there are also pills meant to target breakouts? Here’s an overview of some of the most popular vitamins that claim to fight acne from the inside out. Keep in mind the reason they’re called “supplements” is because they are meant to supplement an already healthy diet. We do not specifically support or recommend any of these products, we just want to give our patients an overview of what’s out there.
Murad Pure Skin Clarifying Dietary Supplement
The claim: Reduces blemishes by 55% in 6 weeks with nutrients to support the production of healthy skin at the cellular level.
What’s inside: Vitamins A, C and E, Yellow Dock, Burdock and Zinc. Also includes soybeans and fish.
Our thoughts: The prescription acne-fighting drug Accutane is a derivative of Vitamin A, so it’s easy to think that vitamin A itself will help clear acne. Vitamin A itself, while a great vitamin for maintaining the skin, is not proven to fight conditions such as acne.
AcnEase Herbal Supplements
The claim: Treats and prevents different types of acne with a formula made up of herbs from Eastern medicine.
What’s inside: Gardenia Fruit, Houttuynia, Dandelion, Balsam Pear and Mustard Leaf.
Our thoughts: We would rather see a patient take a prescription drug for acne, such as tetracycline, than rely on the efficacy of an herbal supplement. We feel it is extremely important to be under a board certified medical doctor’s (MD) guidance when taking any oral medications.
Perricone MD Skin Clear Supplements
The claim: Helps support clear skin and a healthy immune system with antioxidant protection.
What’s inside: B Complex, Vitamin C, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Omega 3, Chromium, Zinc, Calcium, Magnesium.
Our take: While all of the key ingredients in this supplement are important parts to any diet, it’s hard to say what role they play in specifically fighting acne. As a daily supplement though, these vitamins and minerals are all great additions to the diet.
Hyland’s ClearAc 100% Natural Acne Tablets
The claim: A homeopathic combination or the management and symptomatic relief of symptoms of pimples, blackheads, and blemishes associated with common acne.
What’s inside: Echinacea, Berberis Vulgaris, Sulphur iod,
Our thoughts: There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that Echinacea will effectively treat acne. The directions say to “use in conjunction with a high quality skin cleanser” which makes us a little suspicious.
Learn more about vitamins and acne.
*Please note we are not endorsing these products, we just want to help you make informed decisions on how to treat acne.
There are many treatments for acne on the market today. It is hard to say what the best over the counter treatment for acne is. You can find over-the-counter acne solutions everywhere from the drugstore to the department store. Often times, a generic brand will have the same ingredients and benefits as a big name brand. Some of the most popular acne treatments you’ll see in stores or online today are from the following brands:
- Murad – Dermatologist Dr. Howard Murad, an Associate Clinical Professor of dermatology at UCLA, is at the helm of this brand. The products in Murad’s Acne Complex line use salicylic acid, sulfur, retinol and glycolic acid to target acne. Dr. Murad also sells nutritional supplements that claim to reduce blemishes. The Murad product line includes cleanser, treatment gel, lotion, mask and spot treatment.
- Proactiv – This brand, created by Dr. Kathy Fields and Dr. Katie Rodan, is probably best known for their celebrity spokespeople and series of television infomercials. There are three primary products in the Proactiv line. The first is the Renewing Cleanser, which uses “micro-crystal” benzoyl peroxide and exfoliating beads to remove dirt and penetrate the pores. The second step is their toner, which contains glycolic acid and botanicals. The third product in the lineup is a medicated treatment containing more benzoyl peroxide.
- Acne Free – The Acne Free line of products has three different ranges: Sensitive Skin, Moderate Acne and Severe Acne. Salicylic acid, sulfur and benzoyl peroxide are the main active ingredients in the Acne Free line. One of their most innovative products is a quick-absorbing, oil-free foam cleanser containing salicylic acid.
- Neutrogena – One of the most widely known acne cleansers around, Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Acne Wash uses salicylic acid to fight acne. The other products in Neutrogena’s acne line, which range from spot treatments to scrubs, also contain salicylic acid. You can find this brand at virtually every drug store.
- Oxy – Another popular drugstore acne brand, Oxy has been around for over 20 years. The main ingredient found in Oxy’s acne treatment products is salicylic acid. Most of the products in this range contain 2% salicylic acid, which is a known keratolytic agent (peeling agent) that helps skin rid of its outer layer. The Oxy Treatment Pads are perhaps the best-known product from the line.
- Clearasil – Created in 1950 by product inventor Ivan Combe (he also invented Odor Eaters), Clearasil was one of the first acne brands targeted for teenage skin. The main ingredients found in Clearasil products are benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, salicylic acid and resorcincol.
There are more ways to help clear up acne breakouts than just by using topical and oral medications. There are now several at home acne treatments that can be performed. In the last decade, many new brands have come out with consumer-friendly hand held devices that do their best to treat and banish acne. From LED blue light therapy to heat treatments, here are some of the top acne-fighting, at-home devices you can find on the market today.
Tanda Zap Acne Spot Treatment Device & Clear+
Tanda makes two acne-fighting hand held devices that can be used at home. Both the Zap Acne Spot Treatment and the Clear+ use a combination of blue light therapy, heat and sonic vibration. The combination of these three technologies is a triple threat to acne. The blue light kills the acne bacteria, the sonic vibration shakes up more the acne bacteria and thereby exposes it to the blue light. The warming opens up the pores, creating a clearer path for the light to reach the acne bacteria. The Zap is more for spot treating since the surface area of the device is smaller. The Clear+ reaches a larger amount of skin, so it’s better for people with larger acne breakouts.
TRIA Skin Perfecting Blue Light
Another home acne treatment option is the TRIA, which uses a gentle blue light therapy to eliminate the p. acne bacteria on the skin’s surface. Clinical studies on home patients using this device are promising: 94% reported fewer breakouts after 2 weeks and 100% reported fewer breakouts after 8 weeks. Users are instructed to use the TRIA once a day for five minutes.
Clarisonic Skin Cleansing System
While the Clarisonic isn’t an acne-specific device, it can help remove dirt and oils trapped in the pores. Clarisonic uses patented sonic frequency to deeply clean the skin, removing twice as much dirt and oil than a regular manual cleansing. The best way to use the Clarisonic if you have acne is to pair with an acne-fighting cleanser. Clarisonic makes a few differet devices including the Clarisonic Pro and the Clarisonic Mia.
Zeno Hot Spot
The idea behind this thermal device is that heat will destroy the bacteria that cause acne. The way it works is by holding the tip of the device to the blemished area for a 2 ½ minute cycle. In their clinical tests, 90% of blemishes disappeared or faded after 24 hours of use.