Ask DR. CRUTCHFIELD:
SKIN CARE ADVICE FROM AN EXPERT
Why Should I Care About Acne?
Acne is a very common skin condition that
affects over 90% of people at some point in their lives. When adolescents are developing a strong sense of self, self-worth, value, and identity, acne not only may cause low self-esteem, it can also cause long-term and permanent scars on the skin. While almost never life threatening, if it bothers the patient, it should be treated.
What Causes Acne?
Acne is a condition that manifests as red, tainted papules and pustules in the skin especially on the face, chest, and back. It is a disorder of the skin’s pores and oil glands. All pores have a small oil gland attached to them at their bottom. When pores become plugged, the natural skin oil has nowhere to go and thus forms a bump in the skin. We also
have normal natural bacteria that live on our skin attracted to the oil as a food source. ese types of bacteria can also cause in ammation in the skin.
How Common Is Acne?
Acne is genetically determined, running in families. As oil glands in the skin become activated by hormones
during adolescence, we rst start to see acne. Unfortunately, acne doesn’t always disappear when we leave our teens. I treat many patients with acne into their 20s, 30s, and even beyond.
How Is Acne Treated?
Acne can be treated by unplugging the pores, reducing in ammation, reducing bacteria, or actively decreasing
oil production. Topical preparations like chemical peels or salicylic acid will unplug follicles, while topical antibiotic
solutions will decrease bacteria and certain acne creams can reduce in ammation. Other medications and lasers can also decrease oil production. One of the best kept secrets when it comes to treating acne is that the vast majority of acne treatments are designed to improve acne, but very few treatments are designed to clear acne up completely. This is one of the biggest concerns my patients express to me. They are using medicine to treat acne, and while they say their condition is better, they still have acne. e treatments make the condition better compared to not using any type of treatment, but they will not necessarily make acne 100% clear. There is one very effective medicine for the total clearing of acne, but it has side effects that need to be monitored carefully under the direction of a dermatologist.
What Action Steps Can Be Taken Now For Addressing My Acne?
• Treat acne as soon as you notice it.
• While there are many topical over-the-counter preparations,
consult with a board-certi ed dermatologist to identify the
best treatment plan.
• Always use very gentle, non-abrasive, non-harsh cleansers and
• If problems persist a er initial treatment, inform your dermatologist to revise your treatment plan. Treating acne appropriately and early can prevent low self-esteem, discomfort, and scars that last a lifetime. Visit CrutchfieldDermatology.com for more information.
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Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD, is a graduate of the Mayo Clinic Medical School and a Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr. Crutchfi eld is an annual selection in the “Top Doctors” issue of Mpls St. Paul magazine and is the only dermatologist to have been selected as a “Best Doctor for Women” by Minnesota Monthly magazine since the inception of the survey. Dr. Crutchfi eld has also been selected as one of the “Best Doctors in America,” an honor awarded to only 4% of all practicing physicians. Dr. Crutchfi eld is the co-author of a children’s book on sun protection and dermatology textbook. He is a member of the AOA National Medical Honor Society, an expert consultant for WebMD and CNN, and a recipient of the Karis Humanitarian Award from the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine.