What is Acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells and oil. While it is most common among teens, it can affect people of all ages. Acne can occur anywhere on the body but is most common on the face, forehead, chest, upper back, and shoulders, as these areas have the most oil glands.

The signs and symptoms of acne vary depending on the severity of the condition, and include:

  • Blackheads (open clogged pores)
  • Whiteheads (closed clogged pores)
  • Small tender, red bumps (papules)
  • Large, painful lumps beneath the skin (nodules)
  • Pimples (pustules)
  • Painful, pus-filled lumps beneath the skin (cystic lesions)

Certain conditions may cause or worsen acne, including hormonal changes, certain medications, diet, and stress. Additionally, severe acne or acne left untreated can cause acne scars or skin discoloration. An assessment by a dermatologist is needed to properly diagnose acne.

Who is a Good Candidate for Acne Treatment?

Individuals with acne that causes discomfort, scarring, redness, dark spots or self-consciousness can benefit from acne treatment. In order to best diagnose and treat your acne, a consultation appointment with one of our dermatologists is needed. Please contact our office today to schedule your appointment!

What to Expect During Acne Treatment?

There are many different methods of treating acne that acne can be used depending on the type and severity of your acne. These include:

Topical Medications

  1. Antibiotics: Topical antibiotics kill excess bacteria on the skin, as well as reduce inflammation and redness. These antibiotics are often combined with benzoyl peroxide to reduce the chance of developing antibiotic resistance.
  2. Anti-androgen: Winlevi (clascoterone) cream 1% is a prescription medicine used on the skin (topical) to treat acne in people 12 years of age and older.
  3. Azelaic acid and salicylic acid: Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid created by yeast, and has antibacterial properties. Salicylic acid can help prevent clogged hair follicles and is available as leave-on and wash-off products.
  4. Dapsone (Aczone) 5% – 7.5%: This gel is recommended for inflammatory acne, especially in women.
  5. Minocycline Foam (Amzeeq): This tetracycline-type of antibiotic is used to treat inflammatory acne and is the newest of the topical antibiotic therapies.
  6. Sulfur/Sulfacetamide: An older antimicrobial compound available as a leave-on lotion/cream or used as a cleanser.
  7. Retinoids and retinoid-like drugs: Medications that contain retinoic acids or tretinoin are used for moderate acne, and are available as creams, lotions, and gels. These can increase our skin’s sun sensitivity, so be sure to protect your skin when outdoors.

Oral Medications

  1. Antibiotics: Oral antibiotics can be prescribed for moderate to severe acne to reduce bacteria.
  2. Anti-androgen agents: Spironolactone may be used for women and teen girls if oral antibiotics are not effective. This medication works by blocking the effect of androgen hormones on the oil-producing glands.
  3. Combined oral contraceptives: Some combined oral contraceptives are approved by the FDA for hormonal acne treatment in girls and women.
  4. Isotretinoin: This medication is a derivative of vitamin A, and is prescribed for patients whose moderate to severe acne has not responded to other treatment options.


  1. Chemical peels: These acne treatments involve the application of a chemical solution, which causes the outer layer of skin to peel away over time. It is often done for mild acne.
  2. Drainage and extraction: Your dermatologist can use special tools to remove blackheads, whiteheads, or cysts that do not clear up with topical medication.
  3. Steroid injections: Cystic and nodular lesions can be treated with steroid injections for rapid improvement.

Acne FAQs

How long does acne last?

Most people will have acne that begins during puberty (between ages 10 and 13) and lasts for about five to 10 years. However, some people will have acne during adulthood for a variety of reasons.

How should I sleep to avoid acne?

To avoid acne, always use a clean pillowcase, cleanse your face and remove makeup before bed, avoid sleeping on your side or stomach, and be sure to get enough sleep each night.

Is cystic acne hormonal?

Cystic acne is often hormonal. As such, oral medications can be effective treatments for cystic acne.

What does cystic acne look like?

Cystic acne appears as a large white or red bump that is filled with pus. These cysts tend to be tender or painful to touch

What does stress acne look like?

Stress acne usually appears as blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples.

What foods cause acne?

Food doesnt necessarily cause acne, but maintaining a healthy diet can help keep your skin in good health as well. Milk, sugar, and some carbohydrates may make it more difficult to treat acne.

What foods cause cystic acne?

While specific foods are unlikely to cause cystic acne, many patients find it easier to clear their cystic acne when eating nutritious, unprocessed foods.

Should I use benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid?

Generally, benzoyl peroxide is more effective for pimples and pustules, while salicylic acid is more effective for blackheads or whiteheads.

What can I drink in the morning for clear skin?

Staying hydrated by drinking water in the morning can help improve your skins health and prevent acne for some patients. Others have found health benefits from drinking teas such as turmeric, matcha, or spearmint tea.

What can I drink to clear my skin?

If you are suffering from acne, it is helpful to stay hydrated to support your skins health.

What helps to clear acne?

Several acne treatments may be beneficial depending on the specific type or cause of your acne. Options include maintaining an appropriate skincare routine, topical or oral medication, and treatments including chemical peels, steroid injections, or professional extractions.

How do you clear up acne?

The best method to treat and clear acne will vary depending on the type and cause of your acne. Generally, you can help clear acne by washing your face twice daily using a mild cleanser, remembering to apply moisturizer, gently exfoliating, avoiding touching your face, and adopting good health habits like eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep. Other treatments such as topical medication, oral medication, chemical peels, or steroid injection.

What Causes Acne?

Acne is caused by clogged pores from excess oil or dead skin cells.

Following Acne Treatment

Following proper use of acne treatment, patients should see an improvement in their skin appearance. They will experience less discomfort caused by their acne. Your dermatologist will provide you with instructions on treating acne breakouts properly, as well as how to avoid making acne worse.

Schedule a Consultation

If you are interested in learning more about acne treatments for a clearer complexion, contact HMGS Dermatology today to schedule a consultation! We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

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