School’s Back in Session: Learn The Facts About Acne

dermatology associates of virginia

What actually causes acne?

The primary cause is the fluctuation of hormones. Hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands causing increased oil production. This oil can block pores. Bacteria can grow within the pores causing inflammation and breakouts.

This increases during peak hormonal changes – teen years, menstrual cycle, when ovarian cysts are present and even pregnancy. Acne isn’t just for kids anymore!


Does acne mean I am not keeping my face clean?

Not necessarily. Washing alone, will not clear up or prevent acne.  It does, however, help remove excess surface oils and dead skin cells.  Generally, washing your face twice daily with water and a mild facial cleanser is the best treatment for mild acne.  You should not use alcohol-based cleansers or scrub vigorously as this can irritate the skin and worsen the appearance of your skin.


Is it harmful to squeeze blemishes?

In a word – YES! This can force infected material deeper into the skin and cause additional inflammation as well as scarring.


What is the best treatment?

Several factors will decide that – your age, whether you are male or female, the severity of the acne, the dryness or oiliness of your skin, as well as how long you have had it.

Mild to moderate acne?  Your dermatologist may prescribe a combination of a topical cream or gel containing a retinoid or benzoyl peroxide along with a topical antibiotic.


For more inflammatory acne, an oral antibiotic may be added.


With more severe cases, there are other prescription medications some of which require monthly lab work as they can have rare but serious side effects.