You cannot cure acne, but you can have clear skin if you know what you are doing. There are a few key concepts that you need to understand to get your skin acne-free:
- You need to use the right products for the type of acne you have. A product that is good for inflamed acne (such as pimples, pustules and cysts) will not be good for non-inflamed acne (such as blackheads and whiteheads).
- You need these products to be strong enough, but not too strong, for your skin type. If they are not strong enough, you will not see any effect on your skin. If the products you use are too strong, they will irritate and dehydrate your skin, which will cause further breakouts.
- You need to build up to strong acne fighting products. It takes strong products to get acne under control, but if you use too much too soon you will irritate and dehydrate your skin. You must start slowly with strong products if you want them to be fully effective.
- You need to account for skin adaptation. Which means you cannot allow your skin to get too “used” to the products you are using. If you do, then your skin will stop responding and not get clear. This means you will have to regularly adjust your skincare routine.
Does this all sound like tricky business? Good. Because it is a tricky process.
Which is the main reason you need an acne expert to guide you through the process of getting your skin clear. We know what it takes to get your skin clear and keep it that way. We can help you finally get rid of your acne once and for all!
What is Acne?
For most people, acne is an inherited condition of the pores. When someone is prone to acne, their pores clog with dead skin cells much faster than normal. Healthy pores shed about one layer of dead skin cells per day inside the pore, but acne-prone pores shed up to five layers of dead skin cells per day. The body just can’t keep up with keeping the pore clear. Technically, this is called “retention hyperkeratosis”–dead skin cells shedding more quickly than the pore can expel them.
As the dead skin cells begin to accumulate inside the pore, the cells become sticky, get stuck inside the pore and form a plug. Medically, this is called a “microcomedone,” which is essentially the precursor to all acne. As you can see in this picture, there are more dead skin cells shedding inside the pore.
First Stage of Acne
Hormonal fluctuations trigger increased oil production inside the pore. Normally, this isn’t a problem because dead skin cells don’t get trapped. But with acne prone-skin, when the dead skin cells shed more quickly and form a blockage, the perfect environment for the P. Acnes bacteria is created. The oil is a nutrient for the bacteria, so the bacteria multiplies rapidly. So you see, bacteria are not the “cause” of acne, they are the effect of too many dead skin cells. This is an important distinction to remember.
Closed Comedone – Whitehead
Some people don’t get inflamed lesions, which are often inherited. If the dead skin cells and the oil that form the plug don’t become inflamed, the plug becomes a whitehead–a non-inflamed lesion under the skin, also called a “closed comedone.”
As the oil and the dead skin cells build up, they put pressure on the cells surrounding the pore. With enough pressure, the sides of the pore rupture and the contents of the pore leak into the surrounding skin. Because this material contains a lot of P. acnes bacteria, the surrounding skin becomes infected, creating a red bump commonly known as a pimple. The medical term for this red bump is an inflammatory papule.
This next drawing shows a pustule, which is different from a pimple only in that it contains white blood cells. When the immune system fights off the P. acnes infection, white blood cells, which are the soldiers of the immune system, pile up and create pus in the pore.
Nodule or Cyst
Another deeper, inflamed lesion can form called a nodule. It is a solid, dome-shaped lesion that extends below the surface, deep into the layers of the skin. Scarring is common with nodules and can sometimes leave an impaction behind, which can flare over and over again. When a group of pustules cluster together under the skin, they form a cyst. An acne cyst can appear similar to a nodule, but is pus-filled, and can have a diameter of 5mm or more across. They are usually very painful and scarring is common with cysts.
As you can see, acne is primarily an inherited, dead skin cell problem. Most acne, no matter what form it takes, starts with microcomedones. This means the solution lies in products that penetrate the pore and prevent dead skin cells from building up. That’s why your home care routine is so crucial. It’s all about preventing the microcomedones (the beginning of acne) from forming at all.
Does Accutane Work?
Many of our clients have been on Accutane (isotretinoin), but what’s surprising is that so many of them have been on it for two or three courses to get their acne under control. One client admitted to having gone through the Accutane regimen seven times. Some of them didn’t get any benefit at all. However, most of them experienced significant clearing, but to their dismay, started breaking out again within months of stopping the medication. How disappointing is that?
The worst part is that they took huge health risks for only a short term benefit. I don’t think most people know what the risks really are from taking “the tane.”
Roche Holding AG, pulled Accutane acne medicine from the U.S. market after juries awarded at least $33 million in damages to users who blamed the drug for bowel disease. Many have been relegated to using colostomy bags for the rest of their lives. This is just one of the multitude of side effects attributed to Accutane. Let’s talk about some of the others.
The FDA posted an alert in 2005 that said all patients taking Accutane should be closely watched for serious symptoms including:
- suicidal tendencies
- short tempers
- loss of social interaction
- loss of motivation
- changes in appetite
If any of these symptoms begin to appear, the patient is advised to stop taking Accutane and to seek professional advice. In 2002, a director for the FDA told a congressional committee that they received over 3,000 reports of adverse psychiatric symptoms and over 170 reports of suicide attempts connected to the use of Accutane.
There is such a high risk of birth defects, miscarriage and fetal death, that women of child bearing age are only allowed to get a one-month supply (even though the prescribed regimen is for five months) and cannot receive another until the doctor has determined that the woman is not pregnant and is on at least two forms of birth control.
Is Accutane dangerous? Accutane can cause other severe side effects and psychiatric problems, including:
- Crohn’s disease
- central nervous system injuries
- skeletal damage
- liver damage
- cardiovascular injuries
- bone and muscle loss
- ulcerative colitis
- immune system disorder
Heard enough? Well, how long after you’ve gotten off Accutane are you going to feel confident that you’ve dodged the bullet and that it hasn’t caused irreparable damage to your body? Will the side effects show up in months, years, decades? Who knows?
The easiest and most effective way to get rid of acne is to use the right products for your type of acne in the right way, none of which have side effects more than maybe some dry skin every now and then. Even in cases where Accutane has worked, inflamed acne is the easiest to control with acne products taken topically (meaning the products are applied directly to your skin). I know that most people suffering from acne just want to be done with it and have tried every product under the moon. They may be using some good products, but it is mainly how the products are used that makes the difference in clearing your skin or not. Coaching clients on how to use safe products correctly is what we excel at.
**If you are at the end of your rope and are desperate enough to consider taking Accutane, please call or email us first so we can tell you what your alternatives are. We have a safe and effective way of getting rid of acne!
Content provided courtesy of Face Reality Acne Clinic