Our Resident MD is back and she’s talking ACNE.
War and Peace

When you’re ticked off, the last thing you need is to be picked on, pushed around, and squeezed until you burst, right? Same thing for a zit! Picking fights with your breakouts puts you at war with your skin. Your skin will respond by becoming discolored, scarred and possibly infected to show its displeasure. Who needs that? You must LOVE that pimple into submission! Here’s my advice on how to give acne prone skin the care it needs to glow.

Acne (Acne Vulgaris) breakouts are caused by excess oil production usually caused by hormonal shifts. Although acne is most common in teenagers, some adults suffer from an onset way beyond the teen years. In people of color, breakouts can often lead to persistent discoloration long after the bumps have resolved. The face, chest and back are the most common areas of acne breakouts due to the fact that these areas have a high concentration of sebaceous (oil producing) glands. Unfortunately, these are the same areas where residue from hair products can block pores and lead to breakouts (Pomade Acne). A gentle skin care regimen utilizing the correct product ingredients can assist in controlling most mild breakouts. Moderate and severe breakouts usually require the assistance of a dermatologist. There are so many effective medications available to control breakouts these days.

Over the counter product ingredients which help acne prone skin are: Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid, and Glycolic Acid. Neutrogena oil free acne wash and Clean and Clear are a basic cleansers which contains salicylic acid. The Proactiv skincare line contains Benzoyl Peroxide. The mdskincare line contains a great group of natural fruit acids. Be careful with using new products on your skin. I recommend performing a test area for 3 full days on a small area under your chin before using a product over your entire face. This helps to determine if you have sensitivity or are allergic to the product. Sometimes, newly treated acne skin become dry, sensitive to the sun and a bit irritated. A light moisturizer with sunscreen of SPF 30 (Cetaphil, Neutrogena, Purpose and Aveeno) each morning may assist in reducing this problem. Sunscreen can also help protect discolored areas from becoming darker, prevent photo aging and protect against skin cancer. Although shea butter has a natural sunscreen property, the extent of protection has not been determined. Try and avoid toners and astringents which contain alcohol (witch hazel included). These can dry out the surface of the skin which can lead to a worsening of acne or irritated skin. Facials are fine, but do not allow the technician to squeeze or pick affected areas and ask what product ingredients are being used. There is a great, cheap product that I recommend if one wants to have the feel of a spa experience, but the convenience of doing it at home for a fraction of the price- Queen Helene Grapeseed Extract Facial Peel Off mask. Be sure to apply a moisturizer afterward.

What to do when you have a big one? First of all, back away from that mirror, and put your guns down! Spot treatment with a Benzoyl Peroxide containing cream and Hydrocortisone 1% cream to reduce the inflammation quickly can reduce the chances of discoloration. Really big lesions can be treated with a cortisone injection by a dermatologist to reduce the swelling and pain quickly. Persistent areas of discoloration can be lightened with product ingredients specifically used for this purpose (hydroquinone, azelaic acid, kojic acid, licorice root extract or bearberry extract). Recently, hydroquinone has come under increased scrutiny and has fallen out of favor in some circles. It has been a mainstay of treatment for lightening areas of dark discoloration. The other ingredients listed above are naturally occurring substances. If discoloration persists, see a dermatologist. You may need a prescription strength regimen chemical peel or laser treatment to assist.

As always, keep your skin well-hydrated and well-nourished by drinking enough water daily, taking a Multivitamin supplement and maintaining a balanced diet.

Until next time . . .
Take care of yourself, so you can care for others. Do your best to be your best. The better you are, the brighter the world gets.

Disclaimer: This information does not serve as a substitute for individual medical care by a physician. This article is an informative guide to point you in the right direction. All product recommendations and advice are suggestions which may or may not work for your individual needs. Specific medical issues and concerns should be addressed by your health care provider. Patricia Perry, M.D. is a dermatologist in private practice in Southern California who can be reached for consultation at 2625 W. Alameda Ave., Suite 504, Burbank, CA 91505. Phone: (818)559- SKIN (7546). The contents of this article are the literary property of Dr. Perry and are copyrighted.