ZocdocAnswersWhy do I still have Acne?

Question

Why do I still have Acne?

I am twenty three years old, male, and a student. I've had acne for around 13 years. My diet is very fat free, I do not consume much cholesterol and I do not work in an atmosphere that would put me in contact with grease or dirt. I scrub my face daily and have used several over the counter cleaners. Should I be seeing a dermatologist?

Answer

Acne has been thought of as a disease of teenagers for a long time, but this is not just a condition that affects high school sophomores, and it is frequently a complaint of young adults. First let me say a little about what causes acne. Scientists believe that there are four major factors that lead to acne: 1) increased production of a protein on the skin called keratin which leads plugging of follicles and the creation of "blackheads;" 2) increased production of an oily substance called sebum that helps to plug the follicles; 3) breakage of the blackheads which causes inflammation of the skin; 4) and finally a bacteria called p. acnes that lives on the skin and helps to worsen the inflammation. There are several important ways to help limit their formation and keep your skin healthy. First, it is important to use appropriate skin care techniques. Wash your face gently and with just your fingertips or hands. Scrubbing your face hard can only make things worse by increasing irritation and inflammation. There are many facial cleansers on the market that are designed especially for acne and blackheads, and the most common ones contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. However, these can frequently cause dry skin. You can try products such as Cetaphil, Eucerin, or Basis skin cleansers which are designed to be much more gentle on skin. These products can help reduce irritation and inflammation and consequently help to prevent their formation. Using these facial cleansers primarily and then substituting in ones containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid once a day or every other day is a good strategy. If you have not spoken with your primary care physician (PCP) he/she would be a great place to start and is most likely very well versed in treating common acne with prescription products. If your PCP is unable to help a dermatologist is an expert in hard-to-treat acne and a great resource. Good luck!

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