by Dr. Stephen Nightingale

Acne vulgaris is an undesirable skin condition that primarily affects adolescent but can affect adults. Acne can present as comedones, papules, pustules, nodules, and/or cysts and are the result of obstruction and inflammation of pilosebaceous units (hair follicles and their accompanying sebaceous gland). Acne develops on the face and upper trunk. Diagnosis is by examination. Treatment, based on severity, can involve a variety of topical and systemic agents as well as light based therapy, all directed at reducing sebum production, comedone formation, inflammation, and bacterial counts and at normalizing keratinization. It is the most common skin disease in the US and affects 80% of the population at some point in life.

Acne occurs through a process of excess sebum production, follicular plugging with sebum and dead skin cells, colonization of the follicles with bacteria and resultant release of inflammatory mediators.

Acne can be classified into two types: noninflammatory and inflammatory.

Noninflammatory acne is characterized by comedones. Inflammatory acne is characterized by papules, pustules, nodules and cysts.

The most common trigger for acne as puberty. This is primarily the result of androgen stimulation of sebaceous gland sebum production. Other triggers include hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy or with menstrual cycles, occlusive cosmetics and other skin preparations, high humidity and sweating. Some medications can also enhance acne formation. There have been some studies that suggest a possible association with milk products and high glycemic diets. Acne often improves in the summer due to sun ultraviolet light exposure.

Acne treatment is usually tailored to the patient’s type and severity of acne. This may include topical and oral medications, chemical peels, elimination of offending agents, appropriate dietary changes, hormonal control with birth control pills and finally light based therapy.

Light based therapy typically works by temporarily or permanently reducing sebaceous gland activity as well as down regulating the inflammatory process. Light based therapy is safe for all skin types. It can be used alone or in combination with other forms of therapy. In addition, light based therapy can help with the reduction of post acne scarring.

For more information concerning acne and light based therapy call for a consultation at 1-844-800-2919.