Clearer Skin for Bryn Mawr, Newtown Square, & Philadelphia Residents
Bryn Mawr Skin & Cancer Institute has been the area leader in acne treatment for teenagers, young adults, parents, and older adults for almost 50 years! During this time, many outstanding acne treatment options have become available. Today, there is no reason why anyone should suffer the physical or psychological effects of acne. Our Philadelphia-area practice, conveniently located on the Main Line, serves patients coming from Delaware, Montgomery, and Chester counties.
Who Can Suffer from Acne?
Acne is one of the most common skin disorders in both adults and teenagers. It can start as early as the pre-teens, continue throughout adolescence into early adulthood, and in some cases, continue for years.
Both men and women may experience this inflammatory skin condition. While the condition typically begins during puberty, women may develop new adult-onset hormonal acne, which can persist through menopause.
The type and severity of acne varies from person to person, depending on the individual’s age, family history, skin care regimen, and lifestyle.
Left untreated, acne can lead to significant physical and psychological side effects, including permanent scarring, poor self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.
What Causes Acne?
The exact cause of acne remains unknown. However, there are many factors that can trigger an outbreak. Overproduction of oil is one known trigger. Even when hormone levels are normal, skin receptors may be oversensitive to these hormones resulting in excessive oil production. Pregnancy, menstruation, stress, medications, and medical conditions can also trigger acne flares.
Hair follicles are connected to glands that secrete an oily substance known as sebum. As a lubricant for your hair and skin, sebum carries dead skin cells to the surface of the skin. When too much sebum and dead skin cells are produced, a build-up in the follicle produces a soft plug (microcomedo), creating an environment where bacteria can thrive. Acne lesions are the result, and include:
- Whiteheads and blackheads: The earliest and least severe stage of an acne lesion is a clog in a pore that develops into a bump referred to as a comedo. If excess sebum and dead skin cells block this pore from air, it can form a whitehead (closed comedone). If the clog becomes exposed to air, this build-up darkens and becomes a blackhead (open comedone).
- Pimples: Blackheads and whiteheads can progress over time and turn into larger more inflamed reddish papules and pustules commonly referred to as pimples.
- Nodules and cysts: More severe teenage or adult hormonal acne is characterized by greater inflammation that occurs deeper in the skin resulting in painful nodules and cysts. These nodules and cysts can lead to acne scars, as well as residual red or brown spots that may persist for months after the lesions have healed.
Common Myths About Acne & Acne Treatment
Individuals trying to treat acne often receive inaccurate information and advice about their condition. For example, excessive scrubbing and washing of the skin and harsh products such as exfoliants and astringents often worsen the condition. Picking or popping pimples also prolongs healing as it creates more inflammation and facilitates bacterial entry into the skin.
Sun exposure while using certain acne medications can lead to severe sunburns. Furthermore, sun exposure leads to increased pigmentation at the site of acne lesions, which may take months to resolve.
Chocolate and greasy foods are currently not thought to be linked to acne - but while no specific foods appear to cause the condition, a healthy low-glycemic, high-fiber diet may help reduce inflammation.
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At-Home Acne Treatment Tips
Effective acne treatment begins at home:
- Gently wash affected areas twice a day with a mild soap. Vigorous washing and scrubbing creates more inflammation, which makes acne worse.
- If your hair is oily, shampoo more frequently and keep hair off of your face and back.
- Wash pillowcases, sheets, and makeup brushes often. These items can pick up oil, bacteria, and dead skin, and may reapply it to your skin, causing further inflammation.
- Use oil-free cosmetics, toiletries, and sunscreens. Look for "non-comedogenic" products—these do not form comedos.
- Avoid astringents which may unnecessarily dry the skin.
- To prevent scars, do not pop or pick acne.
- Seek treatment early for severe acne that does not respond to over-the-counter medications.
Medical Acne Treatment Options
Acne treatments work primarily by reducing oil production, speeding up skin cell turnover, fighting acne bacteria, and/or reducing inflammation. The type of acne you have will determine which treatments are most suitable for you.
For mild acne, topical retinoids and benzoyl peroxide are often highly effective for unblocking pores and combatting bacteria.
Oral antibiotics are the standard of care in the management of moderate-to-severe acne that is resistant to topical therapy or that covers larger areas of the body. Often used in combination with topical retinoids, oral antibiotics can help lower the population of Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), a bacterium commonly found on the skin that multiplies rapidly in blocked follicles. Oral antibiotics are also anti-inflammatory.
For severe nodular or cystic acne, the most serious form of this skin disease, or acne that is largely unresponsive to topical and oral antibiotic therapy, Accutane (oral isotretinoin) is the treatment of choice. The American Academy of Dermatology and Bryn Mawr Skin & Cancer Institute are committed to the safe and responsible use of Accutane.
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Cosmetic Acne Scar Removal
Numerous safe and effective cosmetic dermatology options exist for acne scar therapy. These include:
- Laser skin resurfacing.
- Fractionated radiofrequency.
- Microneedling radiofrequency (Infini).
- Intense Pulsed Light (IPL).
- Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).
- Chemical Peels.
Acne scars are unique in their appearance and often have complex characteristics. We will customize a treatment plan to give you the best possible result.
Cirillo Cosmetic Dermatology Spa offers a popular Anti-Acne Facial that complements our medical treatments for acne. Many clients find that these anti-acne facials help them manage their acne and prevent future outbreaks.
This 60-minute facial includes a deep cleansing, exfoliation, extractions, and acupressure to open clogged pores. Your pores are cleared of excess oil and cellular debris and thus, blemishes are less likely to reoccur. A soothing mask is also applied. The Anti-Acne facial promotes clear, smooth, blemish-free skin.