What Causes Acne?

Acne is a very common skin problem that can affect the face, chest, shoulders and back. Acne usually begins to form during adolescence. Although it usually resolves, acne can sometimes persist and become a major problem in your life.

Adolescent acne is the result of the skin’s response to hormonal changes. During puberty, your skin’s sebaceous glands produce too much sebum (skin oil). The sebaceous gland openings leading to the surface of the skin are often blocked, resulting in whiteheads and blackheads. The fatty acids in these clogged oil glands can be infected by bacteria living on the surface of the skin. This infection can cause inflammation of the skin, followed by pustules, and sometimes painful cysts.

Stress, lack of sleep, changes in hormonal levels before and after menstruation, hot and humid environments, incorrect closed sunscreen or makeup, close-fitting clothing and headwear can also exacerbate acne.

Learn more about the best acne treatments in Toronto below.

Types of Acne

Each type of acne lesion requires separate treatment. Getting timely and correct treatment can reduce the risk of long-term skin complications such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), dark spots and scars.

Acne spots are divided into two categories based on whether or not they cause inflammation of the surrounding skin.

Non-inflammatory Acne Lesions

White and blackheads are the mildest forms of non-inflammatory acne lesions. They usually do not cause pain or swelling.

Whiteheads are also known as comedones in medical terminology; whiteheads are tiny spots or bumps that appear as white or flesh-colored spots. These spots are characterized by a white round centre surrounded by a red halo. Sometimes a strand of hair can protrude in the middle of the white point, giving the impression that it is stuck inside the spot. The skin around the white spot may look stretched or wrinkled, especially if the white spot is large or raised. Fortunately, whiteheads usually do not lead to scarring of the skin.

In medical terminology, blackheads are known as open comedones. These patches are small, black or dark in color and may appear as slightly raised bumps. Although the center of the black point is darker than the rest, the area surrounding the black point has a normal tint. Contrary to popular belief, the discoloration of blackheads is not due to accumulated dirt. A black dot forms when the skin on a tubercle opens, exposing the contents of the white dot to air, causing it to darken due to oxidation.

Inflammatory Acne Blemishes

These are inflamed, swollen, and red in color lesions that are warm. Cysts, nodules, papules, and pustules are various types of inflammatory acne.

Minor to mild form

Papules appear in the form of small red bumps that lie beneath the surface of the skin. Papules do not have a visible centre composed of pus like acne. It also differs from acne because the appearance of the papule pores is not widespread. Acne papules are formed by the rupture of acne, followed by the spread of bacteria into the skin tissue, causing inflammation.

Pustules (pimples)
Pustules are larger bumps that feel tender. They are distinguished by a well-defined circular centre. The centre usually contains white or yellow-colored pus arising from the lumen of the infected follicle. Acne pimples are usually hard and painful to touch. The skin next to the bump will likely have a red and inflamed appearance.

Medium to severe form

Nodular acne is a severe version of acne, with large, inflamed, hard, painful lumps tightly trapped in the skin. As with larger and deeper papules, nodular acne has no visible head or center. These acne lesions are formed when clogged pores damage deeper tissues and cells beneath the skin. Lesions can cause darkening of the skin, scarring, and similar complications.

Acne cysts are the most severe type of acne. They can usually be distinguished by their red or white pus-filled bumps. These bumps, deep under the skin, are usually huge, soft to the touch, and painful. When the cyst ruptures, the infection can spread further, resulting in new skin rashes. If left untreated, cysts can lead to scarring and other skin complications.

Treatment Options

Chemical Peel

A chemical peel is a topical treatment used to improve facial skin texture and tone.

An acid formula is applied to the skin to lower the pH of the skin, which helps to loosen dead skin cells, induce exfoliation and stimulate new cell growth.

For oily, acne-prone or congested skin, a 20% salicylic acid peel is formulated.

Oil-soluble and anti-inflammatory, salicylic acid penetrates the pore lining to exfoliate trapped sebum and debris, while reducing redness.

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IPL Photofacial Acne Therapy

The IPL Photofacial is a dual-light treatment that heals existing acne-related inflammation, while also destroying acne-causing bacteria to minimize future breakouts.

Sometimes referred to as IPL Photofacial for acne, IPL for acne produces noticeably smoother and healthier-looking skin to restore your confidence.

IPL Photofacial is an effective treatment for both the underlying cause and the visible symptoms of acne.

It uses a combination of blue and red light delivered simultaneously – the blue light destroys acne-causing bacteria, while the red light controls inflammation and promotes faster healing.

A real-time cooling system works on contact to keep your skin continuously protected from the heat.

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