If the inherent stress of back-to-school and sweat-infused workouts associated with sports start-up are manifesting themselves as full-blown acne on you or a loved one, know there are treatment options to send those pimples packing and help is just a phone call away.
“Acne can often flare with the stress of the start of classes and grit and grime of fall sports,” said Dermatologic Surgeon Dr. Melody Eide, MD of the Medical Center of Spearfish. “We traditionally see more patients for acne in the fall for this reason.”
In addition to stress, what is medically responsible for acne flare-ups?
“Acne begins with ‘clogged pores,’ which we call comedones,” Eide explained. “These pores often get plugged due to an increase in sebum or ‘oil’ production, which can be influenced by hormones, such as around puberty. After the pores get plugged, bacteria move in and release enzymes and inflammatory factors. Inflammation can be severe enough to sometimes even rupture the pore, resulting in painful cysts. Stress, sports, certain jobs and hobbies can also predispose to acne flares. There can also be an inherited component, with a history of a parent or sibling who also struggled with acne.”
Whatever the case, good news is, locally accessible and available treatment can put acne on the run.
Eide explained that a successful acne therapy requires the combination of the appropriate medication, compliance and regularity in using those medications, and also a dose of patience.
“With those three elements, acne is very treatable,” Eide said, adding that treatment is customized to the individual patient’s acne. “We generally start with topical washes and creams for early acne lesions while painful inflamed or scarring lesions may require medications by mouth. And for severe cases we are starting to see promising development with laser therapy. Vitamin A creams such as tretinoin are targeted at unplugging the pores and hence are good for treatment and prevention–because if you can keep the pore from plugging, you can halt acne development.”
Any facial products or cosmetics used by acne-prone people should say they are “non-comedogenic”, which means non-acne causing, and “oil-free”.
Of concern to Dr. Eide is the fact that acne, like many other skin conditions, for that matter, can be very difficult psychologically and emotionally, impacting self-esteem and causing people to retreat inward.
“Unlike high blood pressure, acne and skin conditions are something that you see when you look in the mirror,” Eide said. “Acne is hard to ignore and forget about and can be very socially stressful, especially for teens. Acne patients often struggle with embarrassment and self-esteem issues. It is important to address and treat acne to minimize the psychosocial impact, and we are fortunate to have many effective treatment choices to choose from.”
Helping people with acne-related issues is particularly pleasing for Eide.
“Most recently a patient told me that they were able to take their first photo ‘selfie’ in more than a year after successful acne treatment,” she said. “It is very rewarding for me as a doctor to help my patients reclaim their lives from the embarrassment of acne.”