You'd think that, as common of a problem as acne is, we would know by now how to prevent it. While acne continues to affect millions of people, we do have multiple proven treatment options available at this time. If you are tired of struggling with persistent or recurrent acne, schedule a consultation with your dermatologist. In our Seattle and Renton offices, we customize acne treatments to meet each patient's unique needs. One of several treatment options our patients may choose from is light therapy. Here, we discuss what that is and how it works.
How Light Treats Acne
Acne originates from bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). This type of bacteria lives in the skin and gets trapped in pores along with dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. The debris in the pores clogs them. When pores are clogged, the bacteria cause the swelling that we know as pimples.
The objective of most acne treatments is to control or destroy the bacteria that are causing breakouts. Light is one of several ways we can do this. Studies have found that P. acnes bacteria are sensitive to certain kinds of light. Therefore, shining that type of light on the skin can destroy these microorganisms. In addition to destroying acne-causing bacteria, light can also shrink the oil glands that lead to clogged pores, decreasing the likelihood of frequent breakouts.
Not Just Any Light
If acne bacteria are light-sensitive, why not just sit in the sunshine? Interestingly, doctors used to use standard UV light to reduce acne. While some degree of improvement was noticed, there was also a risk of skin cancer that coincided with treatment. It does little good to reduce acne if the patient is then likely to develop precancerous lesions. Instead of relying on UV light, doctors now use wavelengths of red or blue light to kill acne-causing bacteria. These wavelengths target bacteria without damaging the skin.
How Phototherapy Works
Patients with mild to moderate acne may be excellent candidates for light therapy, called phototherapy. To be a good candidate, a patient must be willing to avoid tanning beds and sun exposure for at least one week before treatment begins and for the duration of the treatment plan. Phototherapy sessions may be scheduled weekly for a time to achieve the best results.
During a phototherapy treatment, the doctor may apply a topical medicine to the skin to make it more sensitive to light. Aminolevulinic acid (ALA) and methyl aminolevulinate (MAL) are examples of common photosensitizers. After the medicine has absorbed, LED light is directed at the skin for 15 to 30 minutes. The purpose of photosensitizing medication is to enhance the effects of light therapy. Depending on the patient's skin type and severity of acne, light may be used on its own.
According to studies, phototherapy can reduce acne and swelling up to 70% in 8 to 10 sessions.
Acne is a great thing to leave behind as the new year approaches. Are you ready? Call206-859-5777 to schedule your consultation in our Seattle or Renton office.
Together, You and Your Dermatologist can Clear the Signs of Acne
Breakouts of pimples and blackheads can be difficult to manage. The issue of acne is one to take seriously. Not only does a person with active acne experience physical and emotional discomfort in the moment, but they also often worry about how their skin may look years after acne has disappeared. The team at Pacific Dermatology helps patients navigate both concerns. With a board-certified dermatologist in your corner, you can find your way through the frustration of active breakouts and also repair the damage that has been done to your skin. Here, we point out a few ways to nurture acne-prone skin.
Nurturing at Home
Healthy skin is a culmination of several factors. Daily facial care is one of them. When acne is an issue, it is important to look for specific ingredients to add to a home care routine. Some that are known to support healthy tissue regeneration include:
Alpha-hydroxy acids. There are a few different AHAs that are frequently used in formulations for medical grade skin care products. The benefit of alpha-hydroxy acids is that these chemicals break down the uppermost layer of damaged skin cells so they can slough off more efficiently.
Salicylic acid. A gentle acidic chemical, salicylic acid is an effective cleanser that removes dead cells and other debris from the epidermis. Using a salicylic acid cleanser inhibits the accumulation of oil, dirt, and other particles in pores.
Various forms of retinol are advantageous for healthy, glowing skin because these chemicals have both a soothing and exfoliating effect.
Nurturing from Your Dermatologist
Professional or medical care is often needed to get a handle on active acne, and this may require a multi-pronged approach. Our physicians develop acne treatment based on several factors, one of which may be the presence of or potential for acne scarring. Some of the treatments that are beneficial to reduce scarring include:
Chemical peels. Like the mild acidic ingredients in skin care products, chemical peels are intended for exfoliation and cellular turnover. A chemical peel for acne or acne scarring may cause superficial flaking that keeps the pores of the skin clear of debris. Depending on the depth of the peel, increased collagen production may also occur.
Infini microneedling. In recent years, several devices have been developed for deep, nurturing effects. Infini microneedling is a sophisticated collagen-induction treatment that provokes change at a cellular level to renew the surface of the skin. This is a preferred treatment for acne scarring.
Clear + Brilliant. A gentle laser treatment, Clear + Brilliant creates micro-injuries in the upper layer of the skin while also delivering gentle laser energy to the dermis. This stimulates an increase in collagen to heal acne-scarred skin.
Don’t live with acne or the scars it has left. Contact us at 206-859-5777 to schedule a visit at our Seattle or Renton office.
Overnight Skin Care Treatments - Ask Jennifer Reichel, M.D.
What are overnight treatments and how do they work?
Overnight treatments are creams, serums, masks etc. that help to nourish the skin and replace moisture that is lost during the day. They can also be aimed at specific concerns, such as pigmentation, or texture or even pore size. Really, many of the cosmeceuticals that we recommend could be considered "overnight treatments". the best example, is RETIN-A (tretinoin) - which is used only at night, and is significantly targeting lines, pigment, acne, and pore size.
What would be the benefit of picking an overnight treatment over your regular night cream or serum?
An overnight treatment will have ingredients that may last longer. The best example would be in a mask. They will often times be heavier on the moisture balance than a regular night cream. So if you need an extra moisture boost - give them a try.
What are some common skin care concerns that an overnight treatment can address (i.e. acne)?
How do you pick the right overnight treatment for you?
Acne has Left Evidence Behind. Here's what you can do about it!
Acne is a problem for many young people, a problem that can extend into adulthood in some cases. In addition to the desire to clear the skin of blackheads, pimples, cysts, and redness, patients who struggle with acne also face concerns related to scarring.
What to know about Acne Scarring
When we are young and starting our own struggle with breakouts, we are often told that "picking" will lead to scars; that we must leave our face alone if we want to see its freshness again after the acne storm has passed. If only the issue of acne scarring were that easy.
Acne lesions that are inflamed, such as cysts beneath the skin or pustules and papules on the surface, can result in a scar. These inflammatory lesions develop in pores that have become swollen with debris such as dead skin cells and oil. Throw in the natural bacteria that live on the skin and you have the perfect recipe for dermatologic disaster.
Inflammatory acne involves swelling and rupture of the engorged pores within the follicles. When rupture occurs, the infected debris is absorbed by surrounding tissue, which excites an immune response. The influx of collagen that appears beneath the surface may form fibers that don't look nearly as neat and clean as before. The visible effect? Scars.
Acne scarring used to be a concern that adults would have to live with for a lifetime. Today, we have technologies that enable us to restore better health to the epidermis. At Pacific Dermatology & Cosmetic Center, patients benefit from one-on-one care and modern techniques.
Fraxel laser resurfacing. Laser treatments have taken the dermatologic world by storm. We use lasers frequently in our Seattle and Renton offices to refresh skin that has been affected by sun damage, age, and, yes, acne. Fraxel treatments encourage healthy collagen rebuilding by affecting hundreds of tiny microspots across the surface.
INFINI. The INFINI radiofrequency treatment is popular for individuals who want to achieve dramatic results with minimal downtime. The focused delivery of radiofrequency energy below the epidermis prompts a sustained increase in collagen which, over time, beautifully renews the appearance of the skin.
If acne was a normal part of your teenage years, you may have patiently waited for adulthood with the unspoken belief that, once hormones settled in and the stress of high school was over, your skin would miraculously become "adult-like," as well. Who wouldn't want this? We don't want to bring our childhood into our adult life, but this is exactly what may happen when acne is an ongoing issue. Here, let's look at a few reasons why adult acne may occur (even if you didn't have acne as a teen) and what can be done to promote healthy, clear skin.
Stress and Hormones
Two of the most important factors in adult acne actually go hand-in-hand: hormones and stress. Here's how they work synergistically . . . Hormones, on their own, will fluctuate week by week (in the female body). It is not only female hormones, but male hormones, that can instigate increased oil on the skin, which then triggers acne. Androgens are also released right along with cortisol, aka the "stress hormone."
What to Do
Some women find that taking an oral contraceptive enables them to clear acne more easily. As far as stress goes, we can all benefit from a few simple stress-reducing practices. You need not sit at the water's edge for hours on end, or even learn to stand on your head. Stress management takes a variety of forms. Your job is to find what helps you feel lighter and less frazzled.
As a logical response to the formation of cysts, pimples, and blackheads, many people head straight to the beauty aisle in search of a good face wash and spot treatment. Yes, it is necessary to cleanse red, irritated skin. Spot treatments for pimples is also a must. However, it is also crucial to identify and implement the right product and the right technique for your stressed-out skin.
What to Do
Really, the best thing to do to get quick results with acne treatment is to see your dermatologist. The extensive training that your doctor has will enable you to collaborate on products and treatments that will inhibit oil production or bacteria while also decreasing the risk of temporary hyperpigmentation or permanent scarring.
Patients of Pacific Dermatology & Cosmetic Center have a variety of treatment options to help them resolve acne and maintain glowing skin. Contact us for personal attention for your dermatologic concerns.
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Thank you for choosing Pacific Dermatology & Cosmetic Center, we look forward to providing you with the very best skin care.