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When acne flares up, it has a way of sapping confidence. Although it’s commonly associated with your teen years, it can also affect adults. Dr. Stella Matsuda, Dr. Shannon Sheu, and Dr. Shelbi Jim On of Matsuda Dermatology in Honolulu, Hawaii, know that timely treatment of acne outbreaks reduce the chances for permanent damage to facial skin. Contact the office by phone or online as soon as possible after an outbreak begins.
Acne is a skin condition during which hair follicles become plugged with body oils and dead skin cells. Usually experienced on the face, chest, shoulders, and back, acne pimples are often slow to heal and fast to recur. The affected areas are typically those with the highest concentration of sebaceous glands, which produce a natural lubricant called sebum that helps protect your skin and hair. During acne outbreaks, these glands tend to overproduce, so the excess amounts of sebum become a problem.
Excess sebum starts to collect in hair follicles, picking up dead skin cells, which stick to the body oil rather than naturally exfoliate as they would during normal conditions. This mixture then plugs the follicle, trapping more sebum and creating an environment that’s a perfect host for the bacteria that create acne. The plugged pore starts to bulge, creating a typical pimple. If the follicle is open to air, a blackhead forms, and if it’s covered over, the pus within remains white.
Acne is prone to many misconceptions. The ideas that acne is caused by eating greasy food or not washing your face have been debunked. There are certain ties between diet and acne, however research is ongoing, without fully-established relationships.
Acne seems to be triggered by hormone production. The hormonal changes that happen during adolescence can enlarge and stimulate the sebaceous glands for some people. Acne is sometimes seen during pregnancy and among some birth control pill users, confirming the hormonal link.
There are a number of topical and oral medications that may help reduce the intensity and severity of acne outbreaks. Though it may seem counterintuitive, washing the face more often or more vigorously generally aggravates the condition. While gentle, mild washing helps, you can wash or scrub too much.
Dr. Matsuda and Dr. Sheu use a new technology that harnesses the power of pulsed light therapy in the TheraClear® system. The TheraClear handpiece uses a vacuum to deep clean the pores of excess sebum, while broad-spectrum light heats and destroys the acne bacteria. TheraClear treatments are noninvasive, and last about 10 minutes, with no medication or recovery time needed.