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Good Question: How Does Acne Get Under Our Skin?
Jan 15, 2008 11:08 pm US/Centra
Amelia Santaniello (WCCO)

They are the bane of teenagers, and they always seem to show up when one wants to put his or her best face forward. However, pimples aren't just a menace for kids.

Adults can get zits too. In fact, acne is the most common skin disorder in the world.

How does acne get under our skin? WCCO-TV took that Good Question to a professional.

Dermatologist Dr. Charles Crutchfield helped us learn a little more about acne. Like, what causes acne?

"What happens is when the pores get plugged, the oil that's produced, the sebum (oil), has nowhere to go, so it builds up and you get a nodule. Bacteria comes in and it likes to eat the sebum and it causes an inflammatory response," Crutchfield said.

The American Academy of Dermatology says that 80 percent of the adult population ages 25 to 40 suffers from moderate acne, something Crutchfield sees in his practice all the time.

So what causes adult acne?

"The mechanism of adult onset acne is not as understood as teenage acne. With adult onset acne there are many triggers," said Crutchfield. "Sometimes spicy foods, sometimes exercise, sometimes weather, sometimes alcoholic beverages. So what you can do is figure out what the triggers are for you and you can avoid those."

When asked if stress causes flare ups, Crutchfield said yes.

He said there are four points to attack when treating acne: Keep pores from getting plugged, decrease bacteria, decrease inflammation and get rid of oil.

As far as prevention, washing your face all the time isn't the answer.

"Because acne is a process that occurs deeper in the skin, topical face washing is not going to treat or cure acne or prevent it," Crutchfield said.

Also, while the sun is an anti-inflammatory and can help, there are other unbeneficial results from sitting in the rays like aging and skin cancer.

Crutchfield advises using topicals like Retin A to unplug pores, antibiotics to minimize bacteria and inflammation and a prescription drug like Accutane to stop the oil.

As far as popping that pimple, don't! It increases the risk for scarring.

(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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