And Now For The Facts
What does influence acne are your hormones and your genetics, so lets start with hormones. Acne is caused when your sebum glands in your skin become clogged with bacteria. Androgens, which are primarily male hormones, exist in both sexes and cause your sebum pores to enlarge and become more active, which can lead to acne.
This explains why puberty, which is characterized by hormone surges in both boys and girls, is rife with acne as their sebum glands become overactive. Once you pass through puberty, your hormones level off, but women continue to experience smaller fluctuations with their menstrual cycles, which is why adult women are more prone to acne.
Bad Skin Care Or Hygiene Habits
Your skin care and personal hygiene habits can have a huge impact on the appearance of your skin, including your risk of dealing with acne breakouts.
While acne isnt always caused by poor hygiene, some habits can increase bacterial growth on your skin and worsen your acne. Others can increase your risk of developing the clogged pores that turn into comedonal or inflamed acne lesions.
Skin care and hygiene factors that may cause or worsen acne breakouts include:
Rarely washing your face. Washing your face is an important part of cleaning away excess sebum, cornified skin cells and other substances that can clog your pores and cause acne breakouts.If you rarely wash your face, or just briefly rinse it without using any cleanser, you may be more likely to develop acne.
Washing your face too often. On the other hand, washing your face too frequently, especially with cleansers or other products that dry out your skin, can cause irritation and may lead to more acne breakouts.Try to wash your face a maximum of two times per day. Its also okay to wash your face after you exercise or do anything else that causes you to sweat.
Scrubbing your skin aggressively. Just like washing your face too often, scrubbing too aggressively or overusing cleansers and other acne treatments can irritate your skin and lead to breakouts and flare-ups.
What Is Good For Acne Scars
Acne breakouts, as we all know, can be very frustrating and tedious to get rid of. They also have the capability of leaving scars on the face and other areas of the body. But, they dont have to be permanent. Most of the time they go away on their own if no picking or squeezing of the acne has taken place.
Below are some methods that have been noted to help and decrease the appearance of acne scars:
- Salicyclic acid
- Fast food/greasy food
If you notice that a certain food makes your acne worse, then dont eat that food. But most research shows NO association between particular foods and acne.
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What Are Other Cystic Acne Treatments
Other treatments for cystic acne include:
- Corticosteroid injections: Used to quickly shrink large, painful acne cysts.
- Incision and draining: Helps to open up an acne cyst and drain the pus.
- Birth control pill or spironolactone: Used by women to lower hormone levels that cause cystic acne.
- Isotretinoin: An oral retinoid .
What Is The Best Acne Treatment
The best acne treatments are those that:
- make the cells less sticky
- drain the acne lesion
- and kill the bateria.
First line treatment for all acne should be a retinoid because retinoids treat all of the above except the last two. For over the counter treatment, look for products with benzoyl peroxide or alpha hydroxy acids as active ingredients. Usually, it take 6-8 weeks of product use of anything to see any improvement. Other non-doctor grade treatment are:
- Dont touch your face
- Applying warm compresses to big acne lesions
- Using acne spot treatment creams or creamy toothpaste or baking soda .
- Washing face and other acne affected skin regularly If you wash too much, it causes MORE oil to be made.
- Changing your diet
- Medication after visiting a doctor
- Cortisone shots
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Question: Some Acne Can’t Be Treated
As acne treatments have become more effective, virtually all acne can be prevented or treated effectively. Most cases of moderate to severe acne require the care of a dermatologist, who can prescribe stronger treatments than those that are available over the counter. Even acne scarring can be treated now with laser resurfacing, chemical peels, or other treatments.
American Academy of Dermatology : “Acne,” “Acne and Rosacea Getting You Down? Laser, Light and Cosmetic Treatments Give Patients a Much-Needed Boost.”AcneNet: “Acne Myths,” “Adult Acne: A Fact of Life for Many Women,” “Treating Moderate to Moderately Severe Acne,” “Treating Severe Acne,” “Acne Scars: Answers to Common Questions,” “Prescription Medications for Treating Acne,” “Acne Treatment Available without a Prescription,” “When to See a Dermatologist,” “Frequently Asked Questions About Acne,” “Treating Acne in Skin of Color,” “The Truth About Oral Contraceptives and Acne.”Women’s Health: “Acne â Frequently Asked Questions.”Center for Young Women’s Health: “Acne & Skin Care.”Amy Wechsler, MD, dermatologist and psychiatrist, Weill Cornell Medical College.Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology, University of Minnesota Medical School.American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: “Acne.”
This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.
Side Effects Of Isotretinoin
Side effects are common among isotretinoin users, but most are minor and easy to manage. While taking the medicine, you may experience:
- Chapped, cracked lips
- Dry eyes
- Nosebleeds from a dry nasal lining
- Peeling of palms and soles of feet
- Sensitivity to the sun
- Hair thinning
Some patients start on a low dose for their first month of isotretinoin to minimize the intensity of their side effects. Your dermatologist can offer product recommendations to help manage any symptoms that you experience. For most patients, the side effects are very manageable and are an acceptable trade-off for clear skin.
Some rare but serious side effects can occur while taking isotretinoin. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Joint, back, or muscle pain
- Loss of bone density
- Severe chest or abdominal pain
The side effect that worries patients the most is mood changes and thoughts of suicide. Less than 1% of patients experience mood changes, and there is not a consensus among researchers about whether isotretinoin is to blame. The vast majority of users tolerate the medicine very well and never experience psychological changes.
As a precaution, patients should have a friend or relative monitor their behavior while taking the drug. Immediately alert your doctor to any changes.
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When To See A Doctor
Itâs often easy to manage your acne at home, but some cases are more serious. If you donât see a difference with careful skin care, changes in diet, and over-the-counter treatments, you should talk with your doctor. They may refer you to a dermatologist. Early treatment can help your confidence and prevent scarring.
You Might Also Notice It Popping Up Down There
Seeing any kind of lump anywhere near your vaginal area can set off some major alarm bells. Before you panic, know that some people do report vulvar breakouts before their period.
Hormones can be to blame for breakouts in this area, but there are other possible period-related causes, too.
Other period products can also cause contact dermatitis, which is a reaction to something that touches the skin. Scented tampons, pads, and wipes can do it.
The deep pimples and cysts that sometimes come with periods can be pretty painful for some, but there are things you can do to ease the pain.
To get relief during a painful breakout, try:
- a warm compress for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, three or four times a day to soothe pain and help draw out pus
Period-related acne can be particularly stubborn. You can help speed up the healing process with a mix of over-the-counter products.
Here are some other things you can do to deal with breakouts:
One of the most frustrating aspects of period acne is that it usually just keeps coming back. Here are things you can do throughout your cycle to stay two steps ahead of those pesky hormones.
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Your Cell Phone Is Dirty
Think about it: Your face produces oil and sweat, which gets onto your phone when you’re on a call.
If you don’t clean that off, during your next call you’re pushing it back into your skin, along with any bacteria that has grown.
To clean it, follow the instructions from your phone’s maker. You might try ear buds or another hands-free headset. Pressure from holding your phone against your cheek can also cause breakouts by irritating your skin.
Some Good Things About Eggs
Eggs are an AMAZING collection of kicka** nutrients. Like these:
- Retinol-form vitamin A
- Saturated fats , and to some extent monounsaturated fats , do)
- Vitamin E
- And eggs are super-low in histamine, if youre sensitive to that!
Ok Devin, wait so if eggs have all these good things, why do they seem to cause acne for some people?
So glad you asked!!
I have two big theories about this, and theyre both false accusations of eggs. Meaning it looks like eggs are triggering acne, but really its something else entirely.
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How Is Cystic Acne Managed Or Treated
Acne cysts can be difficult to treat. Because they can scar, you should seek help from a dermatologist instead of trying over-the-counter acne products. A dermatologist can teach you how to treat cystic acne.
It can take three months or more to clear up acne cysts. Treatment often involves taking oral antibiotics and applying prescription-strength topical gels or creams to the skin.
Cystic acne treatments include:
- Antibiotic creams, gels solutions and lotions to kill bacteria and decrease inflammation.
- Azelaic acid or salicylic acid to kill bacteria and get rid of excess dead skin cells.
- Benzoyl peroxide to reduce the number of bacteria on the skin.
- Retinoids , vitamin A derivatives that help slough dead skin cells.
What Is Isotretinoin
Accutane is the brand name for the drug isotretinoin. Even though the manufacturer no longer sells Accutane in the United States, the generic versions are still commonly referred to as Accutane.
The medicine is used to treat severe cystic and nodular acne. Deep, painful, and long-lasting acne lesions are characteristics of cystic acne. Often, this type of acne covers the face and body and is resistant to treatment by most prescription topicals and oral antibiotics.
Isotretinoin is in a class of drugs called retinoids, which also includes tretinoin and Retin-A. It is a synthetic vitamin A derivative that patients take orally.
The primary cause of acne is excessive oil production that leads to clogged pores. Isotretinoins high dose of vitamin A treats acne in two main ways: it reduces sebum production and reduces cell shedding and stickiness. These two results lead to less material that can clog pores and a reduced propensity for cells to hold onto those pore-clogging materials.
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Why Do I Have Acne
Acne is most commonly linked to the changes in hormone levels during puberty, but can start at any age.
Certain hormones cause the grease-producing glands next to hair follicles in the skin to produce larger amounts of oil .
This abnormal sebum changes the activity of a usually harmless skin bacterium called P. acnes, which becomes more aggressive and causes inflammation and pus.
The hormones also thicken the inner lining of the hair follicle, causing blockage of the pores. Cleaning the skin does not help to remove this blockage.
Acne Can Be A Sign Of An Underlying Condition
Sometimes, breakouts on the skin can be a sign of a more serious condition underneath. For example, if you have acne along with excess facial hair, thinning hair or bald spots on the scalp, or irregular periods, it could be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome, an adrenal gland disorder, or a hormone-secreting tumor. Until the medical condition is treated, your acne may not clear up.
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Tips For Managing Problem Acne
Diet. Limit consumption of sweets, refined starches and fast foods, and rely primarily on a nutrient-rich diet with lots of vegetables and fruits. If you suspect you break out after eating a particular food, eliminate it for several weeks to see if that helps.
Minimize stress. It doesnt cause acne, but can make it worse. Lowering your stress with calming activities like yoga, tai chi, meditation and relaxing hobbies might help.
Try cover-ups. Outbreaks can often be made less obvious by using water-based makeup and tinted moisturizers and sunscreens. Choose products that are labeled noncomedogenic, meaning they wont clog your pores. Men with acne can often hide blemishes under facial hair.
Boost your spirits. Know that youre not alone. Many adults have acne. Build resilience by reminding yourself that you are much more than an outer shell try to present a positive outlook to the world.
Get good professional help. If after several months a doctor-recommended treatment has not helped significantly, consider seeing another professional.
Chin Jawline And Neck Acne
Hormonal acne tends to live in the lower part of the face the chin, jawline, and neck and it tends to be more cystic rather than little blackheads or whiteheads, Dr. Wechsler says. In this case, hormonal doesnt mean teenage. Acne in adult women tends to occur on the lower third of the face, jawline, and neck, and around the mouth, Zeichner says.
What to Do
Develop a skin-care routine. Stress leads to hormonal surges that rev up your oil production, Zeichner says. If youre approaching a deadline or a test at school, you may notice a breakout in the areas of your face that tend to have the highest concentration of oil glands notably your T-zone, including the forehead, nose, and chin. Taking care of yourself and having a skin-care routine can help you regain some control. For most people, that means a gentle cleanser, possibly a toner, and a moisturizer with sunscreen in the morning, Wechsler says.
Try acne medication. When it comes to treating acne, over-the-counter products can help. Look for products that contain ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, which kill acne-causing bacteria, Zeichner says.
Just make sure not to layer too many products at once. Benzoyl peroxide is very drying , so you may want to consider pairing it with a moisturizer. Be mindful: If you keep buying products but youre getting worse, not better, it could be that youre getting irritated by the products, Wechsler says.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What causes cystic acne?
- What is the best cystic acne treatment?
- What are the treatment side effects?
- How can I lower my chances of getting acne cysts?
- How can I prevent scarring or other complications?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Its tempting to want to touch or pick at painful, swollen acne cysts. But cystic acne is more likely than other zits to scar or develop infections. A dermatologist can offer suggestions to prevent cystic acne. This doctor can also treat painful acne cysts, lowering the chances of scarring. Antibiotics and topical creams are effective cystic acne treatments.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/25/2021.
Evaluate Your Current Skin Care Routine
A good and consistent beauty regimen will help you fight zits and keep your skin clear, fresh, and bright.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips:
Wash your face twice a day. Wash your skin once in the morning and once at night to keep your skin clear of any pore-clogging buildup. But make sure to cleanse your face thoroughly so you get rid of all the dirt and oils you pick up during the day.
Cleanse your face after every workout. Sweating can cause your chest, upper back, and shoulders to breakout in a reddish-pink rash. This is caused by an overgrowth of yeast, which can inflame your pores. Washing your face and body after every workout will help remove the yeast.
Exfoliate two to three times a week. Exfoliate a few times a week to get rid of the pesky buildup that gets deep into your pores and causes breakouts. Exfoliation can irritate the skin, though, so look for a gentle scrub that has glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid that removes dead skin while soothing your skin.
Invest in a toner. Toner can shrink pores, restore your skins pH balance, moisturize your skin, close and tighten pores, and prevent ingrown hairs. You should use an alcohol-free toner right after cleansing your face, morning and night.
Look out for ingredients that make you breakout. Some moisturizers, sunscreens, and face cleansers contain ingredients that can worsen your acne. Keep your eye out for:
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The Location Of The Acne On The Body
The location of the acne will determine at times what type of treatment is needed. For example, back acne where there are big pimples may require medical lotions and creams to reduce swelling and blotchiness. For face acne, this might require microneedling using a SkinPen first to open up the pours before moving on to lotion treatment that will help reduce oily composites inside skin pours.