Acne is one of the most common skin conditions encountered by health professionals. At some point in their life, about 90% of people will experience acne. Much of the time it begins in adolescence or young adulthood and tapers off in the late teens. For many, acne can continue to be a problem throughout their 20s, 30s, and sometimes 40s. The professionals at Delta Laser & Skin Care Centre in Delta, BC understand how frustrating it can be to deal with inflammatory acne and are prepared to provide you with state-of-the-art answers to your acne problem.
Often, a misunderstanding about acne prevents people from getting the treatment they require. Since its occurrence is so common, most believe that the appearance of acne will go away on its own if given enough time. In some situations, this is true. In others, medical attention may be necessary to prevent cosmetic damage and mitigate the psychological anguish associated with unwanted pimples, blackheads, and blemishes, as well as the scars they can leave behind.
How Does Acne Develop?
Pimples can, and will, develop at any age-though they’re most common during teenage years. They can also frequently occur during pregnancy or menstruation due to the significant increase in hormone production during these times. Acne is the underlying skin condition responsible for pimples, and the root cause is currently unknown. However, hormonal changes on the surface of the skin, or just beneath it, play a role in pimple formation. The most commonly encountered types of pimples are whiteheads and blackheads.
Diet can play a role as well, but it’s commonly over-emphasized by the general public as a cause for acne. Despite popular opinion, cutting out foods like pizza, chocolate, or cheeseburgers isn’t going to have much of an effect on your acne (though it’s important to eat healthy as much as possible, and keeping foods like these to a minimum can have other beneficial health effects).
What Are the Different Types of Acne?
Acne vulgaris is the most commonly experienced type of acne, affecting 70 to 87 percent of teenagers and up to 50 million Americans. Though acne vulgaris frequently shows up in a person’s teen years, it can affect you for your entire life.
Acne vulgaris manifests on your skin as different types of blemishes, including whiteheads and blackheads, as well as papules and pustules.
What Is a Whitehead?
Whiteheads are blemishes that are not inflamed. They occur when skin cells, oil, and bacteria combine within a pore (usually on your face) and form a white tip of oil/skin mixture. Whiteheads may look like small pimples, but since they aren’t inflamed, they lack the telltale redness of an inflamed blemish.
What Is a Blackhead?
Blackheads are another type of non-inflamed blemish. Blackheads form when a pore clogs and the plug that’s causing it is located on the surface of the skin. Blackheads aren’t necessarily “black”-they just look that way, and that’s where they get their name. Contrary to popular belief, blackheads are not simply dirt that gets stuck in your pores.
What Are Pustules and Papules?
Pustules and papules, commonly referred to as “pimples,” are a type of inflammatory acne. They form when a clogged pore becomes infected, causing a white, pus-filled tip to form on top of the clogged pore – much like a whitehead. However, since pustules and papules involve the body’s inflammatory response, the difference between these pimples and whiteheads will be the presence of redness on and/or around the blemish itself.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a process by which the body’s white blood cells and the substances they produce protect the body from foreign organisms, including bacteria and viruses. One way inflammatory acne can occur is through the overproduction of sebum in a clogged pore.
Sebum, your skin’s natural oil, builds up behind the blockage and ends up causing a rupture inside the pore. Ruptures tend to start storing bacteria, and as the bacteria builds up, the body’s inflammatory response kicks in to fight the burgeoning infection. As a result, a white tip forms and redness appears around the pimple as an increase in blood flow is sent to the area to carry the vital, infection-fighting white blood cells to the site of the infection.
How Do Pimples Form?
There are millions of tiny pores all across your skin that sit at your hair follicles. They connect the surface of your skin to the sebaceous gland, which is the gland that produces sebum. In healthy, functioning pores, sebum is produced and released continually in very small amounts into the hair follicles and onto the skin. Sebum has a variety of important uses, keeping your skin and hair moist and helping to bring dead skin cells to the surface of your pores so they can be washed away.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Sometimes, sebaceous glands produce too much sebum, so much so that it ends up clogging the pore with excess sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Since the pore is clogged, sebum is no longer able to flush out bacteria to the surface of the skin where it can be washed away.
As a result, the bacteria begin to multiply inside the blocked pore which can lead to an infection, swelling, and inflammation around the clog. When this happens, a white tip can sometimes form, and a pimple is created.
In some instances, clogged pores become so inflamed and infected with bacteria that their walls burst, the infection spreads, and an even larger pimple is formed. These are called pustules and papules. The difference between a pustule and a papule is easy to recognize. Papules are hard when you touch them and can make your skin feel rough or ragged. Pustules, on the other hand, are filled with yellow-tinted pus and often resemble blisters than whiteheads or other types of traditional pimples.
When a pore becomes blocked, the infection can be bigger than that required for the formation of pustules and papules, instead forming a nodule. A nodule sits deep within your skin and is frequently painful and sore. If you’ve ever had a pimple that hurts and has no visible “head,” you may have been looking at a nodule.
Cysts, like nodules, can form as a result of a larger infection. Cysts are large like nodules, but not as hard since cysts are filled with pus.
How Do You Treat Inflammatory Acne?
As previously mentioned, acne is not caused by poor hygiene, diet, or stress. What actually causes acne, as a base condition, isn’t known. Despite the lack of certainty regarding the underlying mechanism(s) that causes acne, several proven, effective treatments for the condition are available.
Blu-U Light Therapy
Blue light therapy is a noninvasive acne treatment that utilizes light to kill bacteria on the skin. Blue light treatments are FDA-approved for treating acne vulgaris that is moderate or has been resistant to other therapies or treatments.
Blue light therapy works by using light in the blue wavelength range to kill Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) on the skin. One of the most attractive factors for undergoing blue light therapy to treat inflammatory acne is that there is no recovery time associated with the treatment.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, light therapies show great promise in treating acne. Many of those who undergo light treatment experience significant improvement in the health of their skin after treatments. It can be used to treat acne that already exists on the skin or to control the condition before an outbreak occurs.
Photodynamic therapy, or PDT, is a medical treatment used to treat a combination of skin conditions related to sun damage, including brown spots, uneven skin tone, enlarged pores, and early skin cancer. It has also shown to be successful when used to treat inflammatory acne. It utilizes a photosensitizing molecule (a drug that becomes activated by light exposure) and a light source to activate it.
PDT is an excellent option for people who are unable to take prescription medication or for those who have sensitive skin and experience discomfort using medicated topical creams. For many, PDT is more effective than chemical peels or other topical products, and it’s safe to use almost anywhere on the body.
At Delta Laser Skin Care Centre in BC, our photodynamic therapy involves a four-step process:
- Cleaning or resurfacing the skin
- Applying a photosensitizer medicine to the treatment area
- Allowing the photosensitizer to be absorbed by the skin, and
- Utilizing a light source on the prepped skin
Our photosensitive agent is Levulan, or aminolevulinic acid (ALA). Our light sources include Blu-U Light Therapy and IPL. Once the Levulan has been absorbed by the skin, the light source activates the medication via its photosensitive property. The effect of the treatment is to shrink the skin’s oil glands, reducing the occurrence of acne and therefore the potential for acne scarring.
Physician-Grade Skin Care Products
Aside from PDT, our treatment of acne includes physician-grade skincare products PRP and ZO Skin Health.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)
PRP is a solution that your body creates naturally. When it is refined and then applied to specific treatment areas, including the face and neck, PRP helps restore your skin’s natural smoothness and reduce the appearance of age-related lines.
What Is the Viva Gold Facial?
The Viva Gold Facial is an exclusive offer from Delta Laser. It’s a powerful combination of PRP rejuvenation therapy and radiofrequency resurfacing that can refresh and revitalize the skin from common cosmetic concerns, including wrinkles, fine lines, and acne scarring. It can also reduce the size of enlarged pores and create a beautiful, youthful glow for your skin. Recovery is fast and effortless, thanks to the all-natural reparative qualities of PRP, and you can even expect tighter, smoother skin due to the collagen-stimulating properties of The Venus Viva.
Acne is experienced at one point or another by almost everyone, though not with the same degree of severity. While not all acne is inflammatory, inflammatory acne tends to be more prominent, obvious and leaves people with larger, more sensitive blemishes.
If over-the-counter acne treatments are ineffective, or if you’re sensitive to other prescription medications (whether topical or pills), contact one of the medical professionals at Delta Laser Skin Care Center in BC. Our innovative treatment options have been proven to provide relief from already existing acne and to limit the severity and frequency of inflammatory acne breakouts.
To learn more about what we can do for you, stop in or give us a call and speak with one of our doctors. We service the entire area, including Delta, Surrey, Langley, and White Rock. We can answer any questions you may have and help outline a safe, effective treatment that will help get you on the way to looking and feeling great!