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What Causes Acne?

Changes in hormone levels can exacerbate acne. Genetics can also play a key role in acne. Other causes of acne may include the following:

  • Hormone level changes during a woman’s menstrual cycle
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Hormone changes during pregnancy
  • Certain medicines (such as corticosteroids, lithium, and barbiturates)
  • Oil and grease from the scalp, mineral or cooking oil, and certain cosmetics
  • Diet

Squeezing or popping the pimples or scrubbing the skin too hard can make acne worse. Skin may also become irritated with friction or pressure from helmets, backpacks, or tight collars. Pollution or humidity can also irritate the skin.

Acne can also be caused by certain hormonal medications. Other hormonal medications, such as oral contraceptives, are sometimes used to treat acne. Although there is nothing immoral about using contraceptives to treat acne, MyCatholicDoctor offers many more natural options to manage your acne. We offer natural and moral hormonal balancing during the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. We have comprehesive diagnositic and treatment options for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), using apporaches that respect the natural rhythm of female hormones. 

MyCatholicDoctor also offers spironolactone for treatment of acne, which is often a good option for women.

Can acne be treated over telehealth?

Acne can be treated over telehealth. Our doctors can examine you over telehealth, as well as order prescriptions to a pharmacy near you. If lab testing is needed, we can electronically order your labs during your telehealth visit. You can go to any local Quest, LabCorp or lab of your choice to have your blood drawn or provide a sample. 

Can I treat acne at home?

You can try to avoid or control mild or moderate acne with nonprescription products, good basic skin care and other self-care techniques:

  • Wash problem areas with a gentle cleanser
  • Try over-the-counter acne products to dry excess oil and promote peeling
  • Avoid irritants such as oily or greasy cosmetics, sunscreens, and hairstyling products. Instead, use products labeled water-based or noncomedogenic, meaning they are less likely to cause acne.
  • Protect your skin from the sun
  • Avoid friction or pressure on your skin
  • Avoid touching or picking acne-prone areas
  • Shower after strenuous activities
Do I need to see a doctor for acne?

If self-care remedies don’t clear your acne, see your physician. If acne persists or is severe, you may want to seek medical treatment from a doctor who specializes in skin treatments (a dermatologist).

In older adults, a sudden onset of severe acne may signal an underlying disease requiring medical attention.

The Food and Drug Administration warns that some popular non-prescription acne lotions,  cleansers and other skin products can cause a serious reaction. Seek emergency medical help if after using a skin product you experience faintness, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, or tightness of the throat.

Acne Treatments and Remedies

If you’ve tried over-the-counter non-prescription acne products for several weeks and they haven’t helped, ask your doctor about prescription medications.

The most common topical prescription medications for acne are:

  • Retinoids and retinoid-like drugs. Drugs that contain retinoic acids or tretinoin are often useful for moderate acne. These come as creams, gels and lotions. An example is adapalene (differin gel). These drugs prevent the plugging of hair follicles.
  • Antibiotics. These work by killing excess skin bacteria and reducing redness and inflammation. Antibiotics are often combined with benzoyl peroxide to reduce the likelihood of developing antibiotics resistance.
  • Azelaic acid and salicylic acid. Azelaic acid is naturally occurring and has antibacterial properties. Salicylic acid helps prevent plugged hair follicles and is available as both wash-off and leave-on products.

Your doctor may also recommend oral medications, such as antibiotics.

Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is a type of inflammatory acne that causes painful, pus-filled pimples to form deep under the skin. Acne occurs when oil and dead skin cells clog skin pores. With cystic acne, bacteria also gets into the pores, causing swelling or inflammation. Cystic acne is the most severe type of acne. Acne cysts are often painful and more likely to cause scarring.

Acne cysts can be difficult to treat. Because they can scar, you should seek help from a dermatologist instead of trying over-the-counter acne products. It can take three months or more to clear up acne cysts. Treatment often involves taking oral antibiotics and applying prescription-strength topical gels or creams to the skin.

Fungal Acne

Fungal acne is an overgrowth of yeast within the hair follicles. Sebaceous glands within your skin produce an oil called “sebum”. These glands can overproduce oil, and your pores and hair follicles can become clogged with oil as well as bacteria and year that are naturally found on your skin. Bacteria can lead to the traditional acne blemishes, but the yeast can cause an inflammation of the hair follicles, or “folliculitis”. It’s not contagious, infectious or an indicator of poor skin hygiene.

Anti-yeast and antifungal treatments are needed to treat fungal acne.

If you believe you are in need of help with your acne, make an appointment with a physician today.

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