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Frequently Asked Questions About Acne Treatment

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Updated July 30, 2009

If you think you have acne, or have recently been diagnosed, you likely have many questions about acne causes and acne treatment. Get the answers to five most frequently asked questions about acne.

1. Is acne caused by a lack of cleansing?

Acne is a disorder of the pilosebaceous unit, which consists of the hair follicle, sebaceous gland and duct. When oil and dead skin cells become trapped within the follicle, it creates a comedo. If bacteria invade and the follicle wall ruptures, an inflamed lesion develops.

Acne is triggered by androgens. Androgens are hormones released from the adrenals, ovaries, and testes. Androgens stimulate the sebaceous glands, creating an oilier skin that is more prone to comedones.

Acne is not caused by lack of cleansing. In fact, scrubbing your face too often or using harsh soaps can exacerbate the condition.

2. Only teenagers get acne, right?

Acne is the most common skin disorder in the U.S. Three out of four teens experience acne breakouts. But it is not just a teenage problem. The American Academy of Dermatology reports 80% of people between the ages of 20 and 30 suffer from mild to moderate acne. Twenty five percent of adult men and 50% of adult women have acne. Acne can also occur in infants, toddlers, and young children.

Acne seems to be a hereditary condition. While it can flare up at any time, the periods of life when acne most frequently appears is during puberty, ovulation and menstruation, pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause.

3. Can you prevent acne?

If you know your skin is prone to acne, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the chance of a breakout.

4. What can I do about my acne?

Although there is no cure for acne, there are many options available to help improve and control acne breakouts. If your acne is mild, try an over-the-counter acne product that contains benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide helps control Propionibacterium acnes, the bacterium responsible for acne breakouts. Other helpful ingredients include salicylic acid, sulfur, and resorcinol.

If you have moderate to severe acne, you should talk to your dermatologist or skin care professional. They can discuss treatment options with you, which may include topical treatments and/or oral medications.

5. How long will it take my acne to clear up?

The severity of your acne and how consistent you are with your treatments are just some of the many factors that determine how long it will take to see improvement. There is no reliable acne therapy that works for 100% of sufferers. It isn't uncommon to try several acne treatment options before finding one that works best for you.

Most dermatologist agree you should see improvement of the skin within one to six months. Results are seen more quickly if you adhere to a strict skin care regimen. Controlling acne takes time, but with a little patience and persistence you can feel good about your skin again.

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