Acne and Acne Scar Treatment
Acne is a common condition that causes blocked pores, pimples, cysts and other lesions on the skin of the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and upper arms. Although teenagers are often affected, adults of any age can suffer from acne. Acne is not life-threatening, but can lead to physical disfigurement and emotional distress. There are several effective treatment methods that improve the skin's appearance and prevent future breakouts.
Treatment methods for acne aim to reduce oil production and increase the speed of skin-cell turnover to prevent new blemishes from developing. Acne treatment also focuses on reducing inflammation to help treat current symptoms. Treatment may include a combination of topical applications, and prescription medications that include antibiotics and oral contraceptives. It may take up to 8 weeks before results from treatment are apparent, and acne may get worse before getting better.
Topical medications applied to the affected area are often the first form of treatment used to treat acne. Over-the-counter medications, which are used to treat mild forms of acne, may contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or lactic acid as their active ingredient. Prescription topical treatments may contain higher concentrations of these active ingredients, as well as numerous others alone or in combinations.
Oral Prescription Medications
Moderate cases of acne can often be treated with prescription oral antibiotics, which reduce bacteria and inflammation. They are often combined with topical treatments. Isotretinoin may be prescribed for severe cases of acne that do not respond to other treatment methods. In some cases, oral contraceptives are prescribed for women to treat moderate cases of acne.
For many patients, once acne lesions clear up or are removed, they leave behind discolorations and indentations on the skin. In many cases, acne can lead to scarring, especially if it is severe. Scars may form after acne has healed and cleared, and may vary from person to person. Some people may have small flat scars that are not very noticeable and others may suffer from more visible and indented scars on the face or affected area. Acne scarring is most often caused by larger acne lesions, such as cysts or nodules, which can swell and rupture, causing a break in the wall of the individual pore. Infected material from the inflamed lesion can spill out through this break and can affect the nearby healthy tissue, leading to the appearance of a scar.
Although not harmful, most people are bothered by the unattractive appearance of these scars and seek treatment to remove or significantly reduce their appearance.
Acne Scar Treatment
Treatment for acne scars depends on the type and severity of scarring, as well as each patient's individual skin and amount of correction desired. Treatment options may include:
- Tissue fillers to fill in depressed scars for a smoother appearance
- Dermabrasion to remove surface scars or lessen the appearance of deeper scars
- Laser treatments to burn away the skin's surface layer and produce new skin cells
- Punch excision surgery to remove indented scars which may include a skin graft
For many patients, a combination of treatments may be most effective in improving the appearance of acne scars. Treating acne scars is often a complex process that sometimes involves several different treatments.
Actinic keratoses, otherwise known as solar keratoses, are among the most common pre-malignant skin lesions treated by dermatologists in the southern United States. Actinic keratoses (AKs) are scaly reddish or tan lesions on the surface layer of the skin (epidermis) caused by chronic exposure to sunlight, particularly ultraviolet light. They are mainly found on the areas of the body that receive the most exposure to the sun.
AKs occur when the cells that comprise 90 percent of the epidermis, the keratinocytes, change their size, shape and/or organization in a process called cutaneous dysplasia. This alters the texture of the skin surface and if untreated may extend deeper, into the dermis.
Eczema is a group of inflamed skin conditions that result in chronic itchy rashes. About 15 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of eczema, including 10-20 percent of all infants. Symptoms vary from person to person but often include dry, red, itchy patches on the skin which break out in rashes when scratched.
Objects and conditions that trigger itchy eczema outbreaks may include rough or coarse materials touching the skin, excessive heat or sweating, soaps, detergents, disinfectants, fruit and meat juices, dust mites, animal saliva and danders, upper respiratory infections and stress.
Treatment involves the restriction of scratching, use of moisturizing lotions or creams, cold compresses and nonprescription anti-inflammatory corticosteroid creams and ointments. If this proves insufficient, physicians may prescribe corticosteroid medication, antibiotics to combat infection, or sedative antihistamines. For severe cases, aggressive oral drug therapies may be recommended.
Hair loss treatments
Hair loss, or alopecia, is a common condition which may be a consequence of natural aging, a side effect of medication, or a manifestation of a health disorder. It can result in total baldness, thinning of the hair, or patchy bald spots and may be confined to the scalp or affect other areas of the body. Hair loss may be temporary or permanent, depending on its cause.
Treatment for Hair Loss
Treatment for hair loss is usually based on the cause of the condition. When hair loss results from a fungal infection, it may be treated with anti-fungal medication. Hair loss that results from cancer treatment is usually temporary. For other types of hair loss, one of the following treatments may be considered:
- Hair transplant surgery, hair plugs, scalp reduction
- Over-the-counter medications, such as Rogaine or Nizoral
- Hair-stimulating treatments
For some patients, wigs or hairpieces may be useful in creating an attractive appearance and reducing self-consciousness about hair loss.