Dr. Eric Schweiger - acne treatment centers

Do Hormones Cause Acne?

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do-hormones-cause-acne-laser-treatment-nyAcne has many causes, which combine to result in the development of these unwanted bumps on your face. One of the questions that we often receive at the Clear Clinic is, "Do hormones cause acne?"  According to acne expert Dr. Eric Schweiger, the answer is that, "While hormones cannot cause acne on their own, hormonal shifts can often cause acne to flare.  We see this commonly during the teenage years and for women during their 20's and 30's.  Increases of the androgen hormone stimulate the sebaceous glands of the skin to produce excess sebum, or oil." Increased sebaceous gland activity, resulting from an increase in androgen hormone influence on the skin, results in the overproduction of sebum.  Sebum, or oil, can clog the skin's pores.  The clogged pores then attract the acne-causing p. acnes bacteria, and acne bumps can develop on your skin. It is best to visit your dermatologist if you feel that you are experiencing hormonal acne.  For most people, the hormonal fluctuations are nothing concerning, and can be addressed with topical or oral medications.  However, it is important to determine that there is not a medical concern behind your hormonal fluctuations.  Once it is determined that your acne is caused by normal hormonal influence, your dermatologist will discuss anti-androgen medications (such as spironolactone) and topical anti-acne medications (such as Tazorac, Epiduo, and Acanya) to control your acne.  Lastly, people with hormonal acne often see an added benefit from beginning in-office treatments, such as Photodynamic Therapy or the Isolaz acne laser, to clear their acne more quickly than prescription medication alone.

Does Shaving Cause Acne?

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Man ShavingDoes shaving cause acne? For most people, shaving does not cause acne.  So, why do men who need to shave daily sometimes get acne-like bumps in their beard area?  Dr. Schweiger explains that, "These bumps are not true acne; these bumps come from a condition called pseudofolliculitis barbae, which looks very similar to acne.  Inflammation around the hair follicle forms an acne-like bump on the skin when thick curly hairs reenter the skin during shaving." There are many treatment options available for pseudofolliculitis barbae.  The only absolute cure for the condition is laser hair removal; many men hesitate to remove the hair throughout their beard area, but find that it is helpful to remove the hair lower on the neck, where pseudofolliculitis barbae is most common.  Topical prescription medications can also be used, to decrease inflammation and kill the bacteria around the hair follicle.  These medications include topical antibiotics, such as clindamycin, and topical benzoyl peroxide.  For more severe pseudofolliculitis barbae (often referred to as PFB), oral antibiotics are used. Your dermatologist can recommend the best shaving regimen for you, in order to prevent the development of pseudofolliculitis on the neck and beard area. Click here to learn more about pseudofolliculitis barbae treatment in New York.  

New Acne Treatment Found in Genetic Research

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DNA researchIn the science section of today's Los Angeles Times, new genetic research gives hope to those searching for an acne solution. According to the L.A. Times: "Using state-of-the-art DNA sequencing techniques to evaluate the bacteria lurking in the pores of 101 study volunteers' noses, scientists discovered a particular strain of Propionibacterium acnes bacteria that may be able to defend against other versions of P. acnes that pack a bigger breakout-causing punch." The report, which was published this week in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, is indeed exciting news in the search for an effective acne treatment. In the study, the skin of 101 patients in their teens and twenties were studied. Out of that group, 49 had acne and 52 had what was described as normal skin (meaning no acne breakouts). The research doctors collected bacteria from each participants' skin using adhesive pore strips. According to the paper: "They found that the P. acnes species accounted for about 90% of the bacteria in pores, in both healthy patients and acne sufferers. Digging a little deeper into the DNA, they found that two particular strains appeared in about 20% of acne sufferers, while a third strain was found only in acne-free patients." After further DNA research it was found that the two blemish-causing strains of the P. Acnes bacteria had picked up other bacteria, causing them to become more destructive. "The researchers hypothesized that the foreign DNA, perhaps by sticking more effectively to human host tissues, may help trigger an inflammatory response in the skin: acne," explains the paper. The non-pimple forming P. Acnes bacteria, however, acted like an immune system and seemed to keep skin clear by killing the acne-causing bacteria. In the future, "Doctors might prescribe probiotic creams that deliver "good" P. acnes to the face the same way a daily serving of yogurt helps restore healthy bacteria in the digestive tract," says the paper.

Acne Tips for New Yorkers

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NYC taxi shotWhile New Yorkers desire clear, acne-free skin as much as anyone in the country, they face some unique obstacles in this quest.  New York acne expert, Dr. Schweiger, reviews his best acne tips for New Yorkers:
  • Even after a busy day, its important to cleanse your skin.  Pollution in the air can clog your pores and contribute to the formation of acne.  It is important to go to sleep every night with clean skin.  The Clarisonic brush is a great option for busy New Yorkers, because it offers complete cleansing in only two minutes.  Additionally, the Clarisonic brush cleans dirt and oil from the pores more than six times better than traditional face washing alone.
  • Sun protection is important, even while in the city.  While walking from the subway to work, or catching a cab on the corner, you are exposed to the sun in small increments.  This can add up to significant sun damage over years.  Acne medications, such as topical retinoids, can cause increased sun sensitivity.  For this reason, it is important to wear a daily moisturizer with sun protection.
  • There is no need to put up with an unexpected pimple.  The Clear Clinic is open every day for last minute cortisone injections, which can flatten out a pimple within 24-48 hours!

Adult Acne Treatment in Wall Street Journal

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Photodynamic-Acne-Therapy-NYCIn an article and video in this week's Wall Street Journal, "In the Lab" columnist Shirley S. Wang takes an in-depth look at Photodynamic Therapy, one of the best adult acne treatment options on the market. Acne affects 40-50 million people in the United States, making it the most common skin condition that exists. Although acne is mostly associated with adolescents, adult acne is a real skin issue. The Wall Street Journal cites a study that shows out of 1,013 people, 15% of women and 7% of men over the age of 50 have acne. Acne treatments such as antibiotics and topical prescriptions, while effective, may have negative side effects on some people, others may not respond as well and adults may not want to begin taking oral antibiotics later on in life. Luckily Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is extremely effective and has little to no side effects. One of the upsides of PDT is that, unlike antibiotics or isotretinoin (aka Accutane), it is not a systemic treatment. Many people do not want to take drugs that can affect their entire bodies. Accutane has been proven to cause serious birth defects, another reason why adult women who are thinking about becoming pregnant would not want to take it. "Photodynamic acne treatments appeal to patients because they are topical and don't involve introducing medicine to the entire body," says Wang. The way that Photodynamic Therapy works is that a topical medication called Levulan is applied to the skin. Levulan, when turned on by a the light, can kill the acne bacteria on your skin. "The resulting photochemical reaction destroys the skin cells that have absorbed the ALA, including specialized cells that produce oil," explains the Journal. Most patients get terrific results and a major improvement in their acne breakouts and active lesions after a series of about 4 to 7 PDT treatments. Results can last for years and sometimes be a permanent solution to acne breakouts. Clear Clinic is proud to offer Laser and Light Packages for acne treatment.

What is a Personal Acne Coach?

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personal-acne-coach-clear-clinic-nyUpon joining the Clear Club, our acne treatment program at the Clear Clinic, you will be paired up with a personal acne coach.  A personal acne coach is a Physician Assistant, who specializes in the treatment of acne and acne scars.  During the course of your treatment, you will be able to contact your personal acne coach at anytime, to discuss questions or review prescription treatments.  They will also help to guide you through choosing the most appropriate course of in-office treatments for your skin. We think of our personal acne coaches like personal trainers for your acne treatment.  Instead of getting your body in shape, we are shaping up the appearance of your skin!  Since our personal acne coaches specialize in the appearance of acne, they are up-to-date on all of the newest products and best treatments available for getting rid of acne.  Patients who join the Clear Club will not only have their personal acne coach to guide them through their treatments, but will have the opportunity to schedule same day appointments whenever necessary.  This can be quite helpful for last minute acne flares or questions. Click here to learn more about the Clear Club, or to schedule an appointment with a personal acne coach.

5 Tips for Clear Skin

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Helpful tipsHere are acne expert Dr. Schweiger's Top 5 Tips for Clear Skin:
  • Follow your acne routine diligently.  Acne cannot be cleared overnight, so you must be dedicated to your acne treatment routine.  Acne medications, even OTC medications, are not meant to be used once in a while - the key is regular use, to prevent acne from ever coming up!
  • Skin care is important.  Consistent use of an anti-acne cleanser or a gentle cleanser will help to keep your pores clear, so that acne-causing bacteria is not attracted to the area.  It is also important to use a moisturizer  daily, as many acne medications can otherwise cause dryness on the skin.  Choose a moisturizer labeled 'non-comedogenic' to ensure that it won't clog your pores.
  • Don't try to pop your pimples.  Popping or picking at acne can actually cause more inflammation on the skin, which may cause the pimple to stick around longer that it otherwise would.
  • Don't go at it alone.  Even though there are endless OTC acne treatments available, they are not as effective as prescription treatments that your dermatologist can recommend.  Visit a dermatologist before your acne becomes more severe and begins to cause scarring on your skin.
  • Invest in a cleansing brush.  Cleansing brushes, like the Clarisonic Pro, are available at your dermatologist's office.  They have been clinically proven to clean the pores up to 6 times better than traditional face washing!

Celebrity Acne Secret

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Celebrity_low resDuring the award season, its easy to notice that none of the celebrities have acne on their skin when they walk the red carpet.  While prevention of acne is the key to clear skin, they certainly must have some celebrity acne secret for dealing with those unwanted pimples that come up on the day of a big event.  Dr. Schweiger explains that, "The best celebrity acne secret is actually something that anyone can do.  Celebrities all have a trusted dermatologist who they can visit on the day of a big event, in order to have a cortisone injection." A cortisone injection is a tiny shot directly into the pimple.  It doesn't hurt (it feels like a tiny pinch) and does not make you look worse before it starts helping.  The injection contains an anti-inflammatory medication called triamcinolone, which quickly flattens out the pimple by decreasing the inflammation in the skin.  In most cases, the pimple will be flat within 24 hours after it is treated.  Clear Clinic reserves appointments for walk-in cortisone injections, since we know that unwanted pimples are not the type of thing you can plan for!  Additionally, we are even open on weekends, in order to provide this service to patients who have a pimple pop up on the day of a big event. Click here to learn more about this celebrity acne secret.  

Is Acne Caused By Bacteria?

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does-bacteria-cause-acne-isolaz-photodynamic-therapyMany patients ask us, is acne caused by bacteria?  While acne is not infectious or contagious, like a bacterial infection, the bacteria on your skin does play a role in the development of acne.  When the skin's follicles become plugged with dead skin cells and sebum, the p. acnes bacteria that naturally live on the skin are attracted to the follicle.  This proliferation of p. acnes bacteria causes an inflammatory reaction on the skin, which results in the formation of acne. Many acne-fighting treatments work by killing the p. acnes bacteria that causes acne.  Medications such as topical antibiotics, topical benzoyl peroxide, and oral antibiotics work by decreasing the p. acnes bacteria on the skin.  In-office physical acne treatments, such as Photodynamic Therapy and the Isolaz acne laser, also work by killing p. acnes bacteria. Another way to stop the effect of p. acnes bacteria on the skin is to stop the formation of the plugged follicle, so that the p. acnes bacteria are not attracted to the follicle and acne lesions do not form.  Medications such as retinoids, which regulate skin cell turnover, prevent the buildup of oil and dead skin cells in the follicle.  The Isolaz laser is an in-office treatment which, in addition to killing p. acnes bacteria, also cleans out the skin's follicles.  Medical extractions and chemical peels also get rid of buildup in the pores from dead skin cells and excess oil production. The bottom line is that everyone has p. acnes bacteria on their skin, but in order to prevent the formation of acne, we must stop the bacteria from proliferating around plugged follicles and causing inflammation on the skin.

Tips for Treating Backne

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Back acne_low resAcne on the back, more commonly referred to as 'backne' by many people, can be embarrassing and difficult to get rid of.  As spring break and summer quickly approach, now is the time to take action and get rid of your back acne.  Acne expert Dr. Schweiger has compiled the following tips for treating backne:
  • Enlist the help of a professional!  Acne on the back often requires more aggressive treatments than acne on the face.  While acne on the face may improve the topical OTC formulations, back acne often requires oral medications or in-office treatments to fully treat the area.
  • Consider purchasing the new Clarisonic Pro back extender.  While the Clarisonic Pro has always been used to clean out the pores on the back, it has been a struggle to reach all of the way to the middle of your back.  The back extender now attaches to your Clarisonic Pro, to help you reach all areas of your back.
  • Chemical peels for the back can be extremely helpful for both preventing and treating acne, and lightening marks left behind from old acne.
  • Avoid picking at your back.  You are more likely to form hypertrophic (keloid) scars on your back than on other acne-prone areas, such as the face.  These scars can be disfiguring and difficult to clear.
Click here to learn more about the best ways for treating backne.  
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