What is Acne?
Acne is one of the most common of all skin problems. It affects most teenagers to some degree and even many adults. Acne shows up as whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and, in some people, deep painful bumps that look and feel like boils. Acne most commonly occurs on the face but can also appear on the back, chest, shoulders, and neck.
There are numerous treatment options for people who suffer from acne. How your dermatologist decides to treat your acne will depend on the severity of your acne.
Several lotions and creams are available without a prescription that are helpful in mild cases of acne.
For more severe cases of acne, there are prescription creams and lotions. Some contain antibiotics to help get rid of the bacteria that contribute to the formation of acne pimples. In some cases, oral antibiotics may be given.
Other medications work to get rid of the pimples and keep them from coming back. DIFFERIN (adapalene gel) Gel, 0.1%, falls under this category.
A dermatologist can physically extract some kinds of acne pimples, especially blackheads. But this kind of procedure should only be performed by a dermatologist or other skilled professional. Never try to squeeze or pick your own acne pimples. This can result in infection and permanent scarring.
In many cases, dermatologists will recommend a combination of two or more treatments for their patients with acne.
What to Expect
During the early weeks, your acne may appear to get worse before it begins to improve. Don’t despair. It means the medication is working acting on pimples that you may not yet see. You should not be discouraged from continuing to use the medication. Results should be noticeable after 8 to 12 weeks of treatment.
Please be patient. How long it takes to clear your pimples will depend on the severity of your acne. Larger pimples or more severe cases of acne may take longer to clear than milder cases.
You may experience some dryness or minor irritation, such as itching or burning, during the first month of treatment. It will diminish over time as your skin becomes more accustomed to the medication. It should not discourage you from continuing to use your medication.
Read Below for Some Common Acne FAQs
You are definitely not the only one with acne. It is estimated that as many as 70 million people suffer from acne, so you are not alone. In most people, acne clears up after a few years. But at its worst, acne can cause permanent scarring of the skin. And even when there are few physical marks left, the emotional ones can be devastating.
Acne usually begins around puberty, when members of both sexes experience an increase in the production of the sex hormones called androgens. These hormones regulate the activity and size of the oil-producing sebaceous glands that reside in the pores, or hair follicles (Figure 1) of your skin. The increased production of these hormones causes the oil glands to get bigger in the areas where acne occurs.
The sebaceous glands make an oily substance called sebum. Sebum travels through the hair follicles to the surface of the skin. The lining of the wall of the hair follicle sheds skin cells, which then stick together with the sebum. The follicle gets clogged, plugging up the opening in the surface of the skin. Whiteheads (Figure 2) and blackheads (Figure 3) are the result of this clogging of the pores. The sebum and cell debris together contribute to the growth of bacteria that live in your pores.
Your own body will naturally attempt to clear the clogged pores by sending in certain specialized cells that invade the follicle to help clean it up. However, in the process, the wall of the follicle may weaken and rupture, emptying the contents of the follicle into the surrounding tissue. When this occurs, swelling or redness can develop around the affected follicle, resulting in the larger bumps or pimples characteristic of acne. These are known as papules and pustules (Figures 4 and 5) and can sometimes cause scarring.
From the beginning until its disappearance, the life cycle of a pimple can take 8 weeks to run its course. And it can take even longer for the darkened spots left by some acne pimples to fade completely.
The aim of acne therapy is to unclog the plugged pores and keep them clear by using effective medicines such as DIFFERIN (adapalene gel) Gel, 0. I%. Sometimes antibiotics or benzoyl peroxide may be prescribed to help control the bacteria that may be growing inside your pores.
The regimen that your dermatologist has prescribed will help you get rid of whatever acne pimples you have now, and it will also work to prevent new from appearing. By using your medication correctly and consistently, you can help prevent new acne pimples from forming. If you stop using your medication, or if you only “spot-treat” those pimples you can see, new may form, and they may take weeks to clear again. Apply your medication in the same way every day or as recommended by your dermatologist.
There is no instant or immediate cure for acne. But it can be controlled, and scarring may be prevented with proper care and treatment. Again, correct and consistent use of your acne medication and following your dermatologist’s instructions will be your best bet.
DIFFERIN Gel should be applied once a day to areas where acne pimples appear, after washing in the evening before bedtime. A thin film of gel should be applied, avoiding eyes, lips, and the areas surrounding them. You may be tempted to use more of the gel, thinking that it will work faster and better on your acne. Don’t! Use only a pea-size amount, as too much will not work better. Since DIFFERIN Gel can also help prevent new pimples from forming, apply it regularly to any areas where pimples usually occur.
Acne is not caused by dirt. Of course, you should cleanse your face, but too much vigorous washing can dry your skin too much, or even aggravate your acne. Cleansing twice a day is sufficient. Your dermatologist may recommend that you use a mild, nonsoap, fragrance-free cleanser that wo@t dry or irritate your skin.
Since some acne medications can be drying, it may be helpful to use a moisturizer. Your dermatologist may recommend a mild, fragrance-free, nonirritating moisturizer that is noncomedogenic.
- Cleanse your face regularly with a mild, nonsoap cleanser, but not too often.
- NEVER squeeze, pick, or pinch acne pimples or use sharp objects on them. This will only contribute to infection, inflammation, and scarring.
- If you use cosmetics or moisturizers, be sure they are “noncomedogenic” or C’nonacnegenic.”
- Try to be patient. It can take several weeks for your acne to clear. And larger pimples may take even longer to fade completely.
- Use your acne medications regularly and consistently to help prevent the formation of new pimples. Remember, once a pimple starts, it can stick around for weeks or months. It’s easier to prevent new pimples from forming than to have to wait for existing ones to clear.
- Follow your dermatologist’s recommendations in caring for your skin. It’s your best chance to control your acne.