Acne Treatment

Acne isn’t just frustrating for adolescents; it can also affect adults into their 40s and 50s. While there is no cure for acne, the best way to manage it is to find the treatment that’s best for you with the help of a professional.

At New England Dermatology & Laser Center, our dermatologists offer customized treatment plans to improve your acne at our Springfield, Longmeadow, Northampton, and Westfield, Massachusetts, dermatology offices.

What Are the Main Causes of Acne?

Acne occurs when hair follicles or pores get clogged due to the accumulation of excess oil (sebum) and dead skin cells. When your hormones are unbalanced because of factors including pregnancy or puberty, your glands may overproduce oil, leading to clogged pores and the growth of bacteria. This leads to the formation of a comedone in the hair follicle, also called a whitehead or blackhead.

Other contributors to acne include genetics, ingredients in makeup, sweating, and certain medications. Acne is not caused by poor hygiene.

What Are the Different Types of Acne?

Not all acne breakouts are the same. Acne can manifest in different forms. Some of the most common types of acne include:

  • Whiteheads: These small, raised bumps are caused by clogged pores (comedos). Also known as closed comedones, they are white or yellow on top.
  • Blackheads: Blackheads, or open comedones, are comedos with an open surface, which causes the trapped sebum and dead skin cells to oxidize. This gives blackheads their characteristic dark look.
  • Papules: Papules are inflamed whiteheads. They often appear as red, tender bumps.
  • Pustules: Once a papule has a pus-filled top, it is considered a pustule. These bumps have white or yellow tips filled with acne-causing bacteria.
  • Nodules: Nodules are larger, solid, and painful lumps that form deep beneath the surface of the skin. They can persist for weeks or months and often require dermatological treatment to clear up.
  • Cysts: Cysts are deep, painful lesions that are filled with pus and prone to scarring. These can be hormonal in nature and require medical treatment.

What Are the Best Treatments for Acne?

Over-the-counter topical treatments such as salicylic acid, adapalene, or benzoyl peroxide can treat mild or early-onset acne. You might need a dermatologist-supervised treatment plan for moderate to severe acne that doesn’t respond well to topical treatments.

Prescription Topicals for Acne

We offer several topical options that can improve mild to moderate acne. One option, tretinoin (Retin A), is prescribed to reduce oil production and promote new cell growth. It can be used daily to treat acne and to improve age-related skin concerns.

Oral Treatments

Oral medications improve acne by killing bacteria and by regulating hormonal changes that lead to excess oil production. Moderate to severe acne can be improved by oral treatments such as doxycycline, erythromycin, spironolactone, and isotretinoin (commonly known as Accutane).

Other Options for Acne Treatment

Your provider may prescribe hormone therapies such as oral contraceptive pills for women or azelaic acid to improve your acne. Azelaic acid contains properties that help manage and eliminate acne causing bacteria on your skin so you experience fewer outbreaks.

Find a Specialist

Our board-certified dermatologists can help you improve your acne so you can feel confident in your skin. We will assess your skin needs and provide the most effective acne treatment. Learn more about our medical team at the New England Dermatology & Laser Center or call us at (413) 733-9600 to schedule an appointment at one of our MA offices.

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