Before learning about acne treatment, it is important to understand the condition is more detail and also the causing factors involved.
Acne Vulgaris is a disease of the sebaceous (oil producing) gland which is a very common skin condition that affects as much as 85% of the population at some point in their lives.
Once thought of as an adolescent condition due to the increase in the androgen hormone, testosterone around the time of puberty. However, the cases of adult-acne is on the increase and is even more prominent in Western diet / culture.
Acne is commonly characterised by the presence of spots / pimples. The type of spots can range from comedones (blackheads & whiteheads), to inflamed lesions such as papules (no pus) or pustules (containing pus) and nodules (cysts). Inflamed acne is more severe and can lead to scarring due to the depth of the lesion.
Although acne is not dangerous it can lead to long-term scaring and facial disfigurement, as well as social and psychological effects.
Acne is a genetic condition, however it doesn’t mean you are a slave to your genetics! There are multiple factors that combine in the formation of this condition including inflammation, hormones, dead skin cells, excess sebum and bacteria. Of which we have more control than you’d think.
Many acne treatments are unsuccessful because they focus only on a single symptom like the bacteria for example, rather than targeting all of the contributing factors. To be successful in the treatment of acne it’s important to understand the acne lesion lifecycle and key factors that trigger the chain of events.
The lifecycle of an acne lesion begins with an increase in the androgen hormone testosterone, which can occur around the time of puberty, pregnancy, menopause and / or periods of long-term stress. This increase in testosterone levels can stimulate 5-alpha reductase enzyme, which metabolises testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce excess sebum (oil).
The presence of 5-alpha-reductase enzyme also causes the excess sebum to become ‘sticky’ in texture and it mixes with corneocytes (dead skin cells) to form a blockage known as microcomedo or plug. As the skin continues to shed dead cells and produce more sebum, this blockage causes a build up and the plug develops into a comedone (blackhead or whitehead).
If this blockage is not cleared the lifecycle continues. Propionibacterium acnes (the P.acne bacteria), is anaerobic, meaning it thrives in an oxygen-free environment. The P.acne bacterium also uses sebum as it’s main food source. Therefore with an abundance of excess sebum and oxygen unable to enter the pore freely, it’s the perfect environment for the bacteria to multiple.
P.acne bacteria release an enzyme called lipase to help digest the sebum into free fatty acids that irritate the lining of the follicle. This results in an inflammatory response and an inflamed lesion known as a ‘papule’ is formed.
As the cycle continues your skins autoimmune system attempts to fight the bacterial infection with white blood cells, that transition from the blood to the skin and surround the infection. This is known as ‘pus’ and the formation of a ‘pustule’.
If the inflammation is allowed to spread to the deeper layers of tissue, then a large painful pus-filled lesion known as a Nodule is formed.
Controlling the inflammation is key to both prevention and treatment.
The are 4 grades used to categorise the severity of acne:
By following Andy’s “4 Pillars to Skin Health” philosophy, the initial step in any acne treatment is an in-depth skin health consultation to identify the possible causes of acne, before a treatment plan can be designed to correct the condition and provide the tools needed to ensure that it does not return.
Whilst acne is considered a genetic condition, it doesn’t mean you’re a slave to your genetics! By following an “Anti-Acne Diet” you are able to regulate hormone production and dramatically reduce the amount of chronic inflammation the skin is exposed to and aid it’s renewal and healing process from within. Combined with metabolic facial peels to combat all of the contributing factors and help repair skin barrier function.
A typical treatment with Andy would involve a series of facials using CosMedix Purity Peels (the amount needed would depend on the grade of acne). Using a combination of Salicylic Acid, L-Lactic and encapsulated Retinol AGP complex, plus Willowherb and Zinc for anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. These chirally correct peels treat multiple aspects of the condition including the inflammation, bacteria, congested pores and excess sebum. An advanced home care regime plus diet / nutrition advice is also recommended to follow in-between treatments to ensure the maximum results. This would be discussed as part of your aftercare.
LED Blue Light Therapy is also an excellent treatment for acne and acne prone skins. Especially when used in conjunction with other treatments such as the Purity Peel. Blue light therapy is an excellent acne treatment because it has an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. Helping to reduce two of the major causes of acne.
For excessively oily skins or those suffering from acne scarred skin, the CosMedix Blueberry Jessner Peel is also extremely effective. However if scaring is more severe then a CosMedix Timeless Peel or Deep Sea Peel may also be needed.
Micro needling is also a very effective treatment for mild acne scarring because it increases collagen production in the skin. For best results micro needling can be used alongside metabolic peels as part of an overall treatment process.
Andy is based in Harborne, Birmingham. If you are interested in treatment for acne or acne facials book an appointment now.