Acne is by far the most common skin condition. It affects roughly 80 percent of people between the ages of 11 and 30, and many continue to suffer from it into their forties and even their fifties. No matter who you are or what you do, there is a good chance you have experienced or will experience acne at some point in your life.
Because it is so common, many who suffer from acne see it as a relatively minor problem. Yet if you fail to address it properly, it can lead to a number of serious issues that affect your quality of life. These include:
- Emotional Distress– Severe and widespread acne often harms people’s self-esteem, causing them to think less of their appearance and hesitate to appear in public. This can be a serious threat to your mental health, especially during your teenage years and other vulnerable parts of your life. The sooner you seek treatment for serious acne, the easier it is to keep it under control and thus preserve your mental health.
- Scarring– Besides leaving a lasting impact on your emotional health, acne can also permanently blemish your face. Severe breakouts have a tendency to leave scars, which are difficult to get rid of once they are in place. The risk of scarring also increases if you do not properly care for breakouts once they happen. By carefully healing existing breakouts and preventing new ones from arising, we can keep scarring to a minimum.
- Spots– Besides leaving scars, acne can also cause your face to develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, a condition that leaves discolored spots on your skin where the breakouts were concentrated. Those with dark skin tend to develop dark spots, while acne on light skin usually gives way to red spots. The better you are at addressing acne when it occurs, the less likely it is that you will suffer from these spots.
- Physical Pain– Severe breakouts can become painful, especially if they involve nodules and cysts. Our acne treatments help you stop your breakouts from getting to the point that they cause you pain, and if they already have gotten to that point, we can keep the pain under control and put a stop to it as quickly as possible.
As a dermatologist with extensive experience in the Northern Virginia area, we know exactly how to protect your skin against all of these issues and more. We understand local dietary habits, sunlight patterns, and other factors that can affect the severity and impact of acne, and cater our care to ensure full skin health under these conditions. With our help, you can adapt your skin to the exact features of the DMV area.
In order to properly care for acne, it is first necessary to determine who is most at risk for it. While anyone of any age or background can develop this condition, you are most likely to experience its severe form if you:
- Have Changing Hormones– Hormonal shifts tend to lead to an increase in acne, and can occur for a wide range of reasons. Teenagers face a particularly high risk, as the hormonal changes associated with puberty cause the skin to become more oily. Pregnant women, women who have recently gotten IUDs, and women who have recently begun taking or ceased to take birth control pills also face a high risk.
- Find It in Your Family Tree– Genetics play a powerful role in determining the likelihood and severity of acne. If your parents or other close relatives have experienced severe acne, you should seek professional prevention and treatment, particularly if they began to develop it around the age you are now.
- Make Use of Medications– Certain medications increase your risk of developing acne. Medications for bipolar disorder, testosterone replacement gels, sedatives, and even cough medicines can lead to a breakout. Whenever you start taking a new medicine on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to inform us so we can tell you how it will affect your skin.
- Lead Certain Lifestyles– A wide variety of lifestyle factors can contribute to the risk of acne. If you frequently wear makeup that contains large concentrations of oil, for example, you are likely to suffer from facial breakouts, especially if you leave it on for long periods of time. Likewise, if you often put on bike helmets, collars, backpacks, and other items that put pressure on your skin, you may experience acne in the areas they touch.
- Suffer from Other Sources– Acne is more common among those who live in areas with high levels of air pollution, suffer high levels of stress, or have high concentrations of bacteria on their faces. While it is not always possible to tell that you are experiencing these factors, a dermatologist may find that they are to blame if you have a severe breakout with no obvious cause.
If you fit into one or more of these risk categories, or even if you don’t but are generally worried about acne, we invite you to pay us a visit. We are happy to go over your past and current experiences with acne, assess your likelihood of developing a severe breakout, and come up with strategies to keep your face clear and painless.
We take a holistic approach to protecting your face from the effects of acne, allowing us to maximize the effectiveness of our treatments while minimizing the risks. This involves:
- Prudent Prevention– The most effective way to prevent scarring, spots, and emotional distress is to stop acne from developing in the first place. We use a myriad of different preventative methods, ranging from giving you lifestyle advice to helping you clean your face without disturbing it. We may recommend that you take antibiotics or apply benzoyl peroxide to kill facial bacteria, or that you wash your face gently with salicylic acids so that your pores do not become clogged.
- Tenacious Treatment– If you already suffer from serious breakouts, there are various ways to clear that acne up while preventing it from leaving scars and spots. This includes applying resorcinol to blackheads and whiteheads, as well as performing drainage and extraction on particularly large or inflamed blemishes. We can also use lasers to get rid of acne in targeted locations.
- Hormonal Help– Under certain circumstances, we can help you to balance your hormones so that they do not lead to oily or acne-prone skin. For example, we often recommend birth control pills for young women with acne issues. While birth control can increase the risk of acne in the short term, it tends to make it less serious over the long term, allowing you to keep your face clear with ease.
- Repeated Reviews– No matter how effective the initial treatment is, we recommend that you continue to visit us and assess the state of your skin. By monitoring your acne issues over the long run, we can catch any new breakouts early. We can also adapt our advice to your changing body and lifestyle, ensuring that new hormonal changes, dietary habits, and sources of stress do not stand in the way of a clear face.
In helping you to keep your acne under control, we take care not to put your skin at risk in other ways. Acne treatments have various negative side effects, and we are committed to keeping you informed of them from the beginning. Certain acne medications, for example, increase your risk of sunburn. If we give you such a medicine, we will let you know of the risk as soon as we prescribe it, as well as how best to contain that risk. Likewise, washing your face with salicylic acid is only effective if you do so gently; scrubbing your face can actually increase the risk of a breakout. We thus advise you on the best techniques to apply this treatment.
Whether you meet all the acne risk factors or simply want to take your skin care the extra mile, our acne treatment specialists are happy to help. By working with a dermatologist to prevent, manage, and eliminate breakouts, you can keep all the negative effects of acne at bay for the long haul.