Inflammatory Acne

Inflammatory acne occurs when acne blemishes become inflamed, thus forming papules and pustules, also known as pimples or zits. Papules are closed lesions similar to whiteheads that become red and inflamed, appearing as small bumps on the skin. Pustules occur when papules rupture, resulting in pus-filled lesions that are visible on the skin similar to blisters. In more severe cases, deeper and larger pus filled lesions called nodules may form. While it may be tempting to pop these lesions, it’s important not to, as this may result in tissue damage that can lead to scarring. Acne scars can be improved but are not entirely correctable. While laser therapy and skin fillers certainly improve scars, it is best to prevent their formation in the first place.

The following are visible signs of inflammatory acne:

Papules and pustules: As early acne blemishes get larger and inflamed, they become papules and pustules (pimples or zits).

Nodules: Very large and deep lumps can also develop in some people, these are called nodules and cysts (like boils) and can be painful.

Oily skin:An overproduction of sebum causes the skin to look and feel oily.

Hyperpigmentation: After the inflammation subsides, the skin can be discolored (called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH) and damaged by scars. PIH will usually fade over time.Acne scars are common and may occur even in mild acne.

Excess oil production in the sebaceous glands is the primary cause of acne. Teenagers are especially vulnerable to developing acne due to elevated testosterone levels that occur during puberty. In most individuals with acne, the levels of testosterone are no different from those with no acne, but there is an increased sensitivity to this hormone in the oil glands. The oil produced has a slightly different composition, leading to proliferation of certain bacteria and inflammation. Other factors can contribute to the development of acne, such as hereditary traits, medication and direct contact with oily substances or cosmetics that can block skin pores.

Good skin care is essential to having healthy and blemish-free skin. A daily and thorough cleansing regimen can help maintain a clear complexion. Acne cleansers remove accumulated oil, make-up, sweat and dirt on the surface of your skin. These products generally make it easier for topical acne treatments to be absorbed. However, excessive use of acne cleansers can also lead to irritated and dry skin. Most people with acne will only need to cleanse with such products once to twice daily.

The most effective way to prevent acne is to keep the skin clean and clear of debris that may clog the pores. Use gentle cleansers and exfoliators to remove the build-up of excess oil, dirt and dead skin cells. After cleansing, use an oil-free moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated. Another way to prevent acne is to use cosmetics specially designed for acne-prone skin that are either oil-free or non-comedogenic. Oil-free cosmetics contain little or no isopropyl myristate, isopropyl esters, oleic acid, stearic acid, petrolatum and lanolin (especially acetylated lanolin, alcohols and lanolin fatty acids). It’s also helpful to avoid contact with objects that may be greasy. Avoid touching your face after handling an item that is dirty or oily. Objects that are held close to the skin. such as cell phones or telephone receivers, may often have an oily residue on them. Make sure to keep them clean to prevent transferring oil directly to your skin.

Acne can be treated with a variety of options. If you have minimal acne, you can often get reasonable results using OTC products, which are usually directed at reducing the blockage of pores.

In general, these products include cleansers and some topical treatments. Over-the-counter products containing active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and alpha-hydroxy acids are helpful in combating blocked pores, anti-bacterial action and reducing inflammation.

If your inflamed pimples do not respond well to OTC products, a doctor may prescribe a stronger medication. Medicines that contain ingredients such as retinoids, are one of the most effective anti-acne agents for unblocking the pores of oil glands. They are generally considered to be the first choice of treatment for whiteheads and blackheads.Your physician can choose the one that is best suited to your needs. Benzoyl peroxide (BPO) is a powerful antimicrobial agent that is effective against inflammatory acne. Topical antibiotics are frequently combined with benzoyl peroxide. Some products combine BPO and adapelene.Acne results from several contributing factors, consequently, combination products are especially effective because they can address several of these causes. If you have severe acne, consult with a dermatologist to find out which treatment option is best for you. Oral anti-inflammatories and antibacterials may be used to treat infection and inflammation. Oral antibiotics and birth control pills are also useful therapies prescribed by doctors to treat acne.For cases of cystic acne, or acne that doesn’t respond well to other treatments, isotretinoin (an oral retinoid related to vitamin A) would be the treatment of choice. Isotretinoin is very potent and carries serious risks and side-effects if not properly administered and closely supervised by a doctor during treatment.

Photodynamic therapy is favored by some for inflammatory acne. In serious cases of acne scarring, medical procedures such as photorejuvenation, scar revision or laser resurfacing treatments may minimize the appearance of scars. Blue light therapy helps some as well.