While most people will only ever experience the mild development of acne in their teen years, there are those that suffer a severe form of this skin disease known medically as Acne Vulgaris. This skin condition involves the oil glands at the base of hair follicles. Human skin has pores which connect to oil glands located under the skin. These glands produce an oily liquid called Sebum. The sebum job is to carry dead skin cells through the follicles to the surface of the skin, and if these follicles get blocked, a pimple can grow that results in an accumulation of oil under the skin.
Acne can be embarrassing and cause self-esteem issues in all ages. Understanding the signs of acne is the first step in determining which treatment may work best for you. Whiteheads are small blemishes with a whitish head whereas blackheads look like tiny dots on your skin. Both are referred to as comedones, which is another term for clogged pore. The next phase of acne is called Papules and occurs when bacteria, sebum, and dead skin cells cause inflammation under the skin. They are small hard lesions, but there is no pus in papules. Similar to papules are pustules in appearance, but they are pus filled. These types of mild to moderate acne should be treated to heal existing spots and lessen the chances of scarring. It is also advisable for those with a darker complexion to seek treatment at the early stages of acne to prevent hyperpigmentation.
If you’re experiencing large, red, inflamed blemishes that last longer than a month these can be symptoms of severe acne. Nodular acne and acne cysts are both types of severe acne and need a customized treatment plan. Nodular acne is usually painful and covers large areas of your skin. The nodules are lesions that are deep within the skin. Similar to nodules, cysts are deep under the skin’s surface as well, but they are filled with pus and are usually softer than a nodule. These severe types of acne are usually caused by genetics and if left untreated can cause scarring.
There are stronger medications and therapies that can help treat severe acne if over the counter products aren’t working. The following types of treatment are offered for severe acne:
These products work best on clean, dry skin and may take a few weeks to notice any improvements. The most common topical prescriptions are Retinoids, antibiotics, and Dapsone. These products come in a gel, cream or lotion.
For moderate to severe acne, you may need oral medications to reduce bacteria and fight inflammation. This may include a drug called Accutane. This powerful drug was used almost exclusively years ago, and in most cases, the first signs of healing occurred after two to three weeks of treatment although it could take as long as one to two months for the benefits to be noticed. While Accutane can be beneficial for some patients, the best results are obtained when combined with other treatments for severe acne.
Photorejuvenation is a procedure that uses lasers or photodynamic therapy. It treats only the area that is required and does not affect the surrounding tissue. During treatment, a laser emits a controlled light that is absorbed by the skin. The body’s natural healing system encourages the production of new collagen to improve the texture of the skin. You will be asked to wear dark goggles to protect your eyes from the bright light. A cold gel is applied to aid in the absorption of the light. Treatment lasts about 30 minutes, and five or six treatments are recommended for maximum results.
Blu-U is a narrow band of blue light is emitted in this non-invasive, pain-free treatment that is safe for all ages and pregnant women. The light causes a photodynamic effect within the oil glands that kills the primary bacteria responsible for acne. While this treatment can be effective on its own, it can also be combined with other forms of therapy to enhance results. These simple sessions last approximately 30 minutes during which time you will sit with the affected area exposed to the light. Aftercare may include the doctor recommending special attention in choosing a sunscreen.
Levulan Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) combines light and a special light-activated solution called Levulan. This effective treatment controls hard to treat acne and may also improve skin texture, pore size, and pigmentation. Prior to applying Levulan, an active scrub or microdermabrasion will be performed to the treatment area. You will then be positioned under a Blu-U or IPL light in a darkened room. After the treatment, the Levulan is washed off, and a sun block is applied to the treated area before leaving the clinic.
Laser and Skin Care Medspa offer a free consultation to assess each individual before recommending any course of action. Please note that treatment is covered by Alberta Health Care and some 3rd party insurance plans. We also carry special medical grade skin care products and water-based therapeutic foundation such as the Jane Iredale Makeup line that aid in acne care and not harm your skin like some over the counter products can. We employ the most advanced treatments for maximum benefit for you. If acne is a concern for you, there are treatment options available that can help.