Researchers haven’t pinpointed the exact cause of acne, but there are several known factors that can contribute to the condition.

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With more than 50 million Americans affected by acne each year, it’s the most common skin condition in the nation. Saif Fatteh, MD, of Lansing Podiatry & Dermatology in Mt. Pleasant and East Lansing, Michigan, offers thorough diagnostic and treatment services for acne. If you’re ready to feel great about your skin, schedule a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Fatteh today. Online booking is one option, or you can always call or stop by the office to check availability.

What is acne?

Acne is a chronic skin condition marked by inflammation and breakouts. It affects nearly 85% of the American population between the ages of 12-24. While acne isn’t dangerous, it can cause significant scarring and have a negative impact on your self-esteem.

The best way to understand acne is to think about the roles your hair follicles and pores play in maintaining healthy skin. You have millions of hair follicles spread over virtually every area of your body except the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet.

Each of those follicles connects an oil gland to a pore, which extends to the surface of your skin. Your oil glands produce sebum, an oily liquid that helps transport dead skin cells and other debris out of your body.

From time to time a hair follicle becomes blocked, and a combination of sebum, hair, and dead skin cells begins to accumulate into a plug. If that plug becomes infected by bacteria, inflammation follows. Acne is the culmination of the cycle involving plugged follicles, inflammation, and eventually a breakout at the surface of your skin.

What causes acne?

Researchers haven’t pinpointed the exact cause of acne, but there are several known factors that can contribute to the condition. Some of the factors that can trigger acne include:

  • Hormone fluctuation
  • Emotional stress
  • Certain medications
  • Menstruation
  • Greasy cosmetics or pore-clogging skin care

There also seems to be a genetic component to acne. If you have a close family member who suffered from acne, you may be at an elevated risk.

What can I do to prevent acne breakouts?

It might not be possible to avoid all breakouts, but there are things you can do to reduce the effects that acne has on your skin and your confidence. One important thing to avoid is aggressive face scrubbing or washing. This will only force the infection deeper into your skin, making it harder for your body’s natural healing process to restore your skin.

These tips can also reduce breakouts:

  • Avoid touching your face
  • Wash your face no more than two times a day with mild soap and warm water
  • Choose cosmetics and skin care products marketed for sensitive skin, and avoid oil-based products
  • If your acne is on your body, avoid tight clothing that doesn’t let your skin breathe
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Reduce anxiety and stress

Some breakouts will happen no matter how carefully you follow these guidelines, however, it’s important to be mindful of how your behavior affects the frequency of breakouts.

How is acne treated?

Dr. Fatteh begins by examining your skin and discussing your health history and your experience with acne. He creates a customized treatment plan that aligns with your specific set of needs.

Medication may play a role in your treatment path.  For some women, oral contraceptives can help by altering your hormonal balance. Topical antimicrobial medications can help women and men by reducing bacteria known to trigger acne. Oral antibiotics can also be helpful in many cases.

Isotretinoin, sold under the brand name Accutane, is a drug that can help treat severe acne when other efforts have failed to yield the desired result. This medication carries a risk of serious side effects, which is why Dr. Fatteh works with you to determine if this is the best option for your needs.