Evolutions Medical Spa Santa Barbara hosts events to educate clients and guests on select topics. The Evolutions Educational Event held this past Wednesday was titled “From Red to Ready” and addressed how it is possible to get rid of acne and rosacea! Since so much information was offered, this post is dedicated to acne.
- Acne is one of the most common of all skin problems
- Acne affects over 70 million people and 90% of all teens
- Acne is an ongoing condition, often characterized by periodic flare-ups
- It most commonly affects the face, upper chest and back
For most people it is a matter of “controlling” acne instead of curing it.
Types of Acne
- Comedonal Acne: this type of acne usually consists of plugged pores with not a lot of bacterial activity, often seen as small bumps under the skin.
- Papulopustular Acne: this type of acne has more bacterial activity and appears more as pimples with a whitehead and red surrounding area.
- Cystic Acne: this type of acne is more deeply rooted, with the acne appearing as large bumps (like a marble under the skin) with, or without, whiteheads and may need to be treated systemically (with oral antibiotics or Accutane).
What Causes Acne?
- Increased sebum or oil production – usually related to hormones
- Obstruction of the pore
- P. Acnes bacteria begin to grow in the sebum
- Inflammation occurs when the sebum escapes into the surrounding skin
Treating acne is an ongoing process because there is no “cure” your goal is to “control” what is going on. There are three overall goals:
- Prevent the blocking of the pores. Opening pores helps the skin function better. Keep the pores open through exfoliation, which promotes skin turnover. Use of retinoids (like Retin-A) and exfoliation through products are recommended for at-home skin care. It is also recommended to seek periodic professional treatments such as a chemical peel or Vibradermabrasion (a more physical way to open up the surface) to expedite exfoliation of the top layers of skin.
- Minimize inflammation. Salicyclic acid liquefies the sebum and helps to quiet the skin. A low percentage of salicyclic acid is okay to use on a regular basis and can help minimize the inflammation of acne.
- Prevent Scarring. Acne scarring or pitting remains long after the acne is gone which is why it is a good idea to learn how to get your acne under control.
Tips on the Treatment of Acne
- Good hygiene: keep the skin clean. Dr. Perkins does not recommend washing the face more than two times per day. Washing the face more than that may cause an increase in oil production. Use a gentle foaming cleanser. The face wash does not need to be harsh or it may “strip” your skin – again causing increased oil production – especially if you are using other products such as salicyclic acid or retinoids. The Clarisonic skin care brush is highly recommended by Dr. Perkins. He touts this as the “best cleaning device” because the ultrasonic waves penetrate below the surface for a deep, yet gentle, cleanse.
- Don’t “pick” and “pop”: this may increase the life of the pimple, making it larger or redder and /or increase your chances of scarring.
- No oil based cosmetics: many store make-up brands are petroleum based, which is like putting putty in your pores. Over time, this clogs pores. Mineral make-up is more quieting to the skin.
- Don’t go to sleep with make-up on: give your face a rest!
- “Good” diet: consuming foods with a high iodine content (salt) tends to foster breakouts. In addition, a skin supplement that has worked for some Evolutions clients are the VitaMedica “Clear Skin Treatment”.
- Stress management: Learn to manage your stress. Outbreaks can definitely be stress (and hormone) related.
How You Can Treat Your Acne
Treatment of acne can be done in many ways, from at-home topical treatments to professional treatments to oral medication. How acne is treated typically depends on your specific case of acne and it is recommended that you get a professional opinion on how to best proceed in managing your acne.
Topical Acne Treatments
- Retinoids (Retin-A), exfoliants (AFA Exfoliating Gel), and amino fruit acids can be used topically to treat acne.
- Although glycolic acid is very popular and found in many store products, it can be the most irritating of the alpha hyrdoxy acids and Dr. Perkins prefers mandelic acid (available at Evolutions) which is less irritating and has an anti-bacterial function to decrease the P. Acnes bacteria.
Oral / Systemic Therapy
- Oral treatments include antibiotics and Accutane. Dr. Perkins prefers to try to treat the acne topically before prescribing an oral treatment.
- Acne Facials professionally cleanse, exfoliate and extract keeping the pores open and the skin functioning normally.
- Vibradermabrasion is a physical exfoliation that is similar to microdermabrasion without the suction. It has been found that the suction in microdermabrasion may affect the tiny blood vessels in the face, making the skin appear redder. Vibraderm is similar to “buffing” the skin, is comfortable, and the whole face can be done in 10 to 15 minutes as opposed to a 35 to 40 minute session of microdermabrasion.
- AFA/Clay Mask Peel is an advanced amino fruit acid mask which exfoliates and opens up the pores. It is less irritating than alpha hydroxy acids.
- Multiwave LED (Light Emitting Diode) therapy works in which energy is delivered to the skin and absorbed by the cells for therapeutic benefits through a process called “photo-stimulation.” The “blue” light kills the P. Acnes bacteria while the “red” light calms the skin and gets rid of inflammation. The Multiwave LED therapy can be done alone or often is part of a facial at Evolutions.
- Levulan is similar to the oral drug Accutane, but is a topical treatment. Levulan causes the sebaceous cells to sink and people have seen dramatic changes in their skin from one treatment or through a series (which is often three treatments).
- Cyst Injections are a topical way to treat cystic acne. Antibiotics are injected under the cystic acne to help bring done the bacterial infection.
- Isolaz Deep Pore Therapy combines a vacuum with a light treatment. The vacuum purifies the pores from the inside out and the blue light kills the bacteria. A great treatment for persistent papulopustular acne.
There is no “magic bullet” that cures acne. It is important to create and execute a comprehensive “attack plan” that combines good home care with appropriate professional services. Generally it takes a few weeks (a “turnover cycle”) to start seeing results of a treatment, so patience is necessary.