According to the Mayo Clinic, “Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. It often causes whiteheads, blackheads or pimples, and usually appears on the face, forehead, chest, upper back and shoulders. Acne is most common among teenagers, though it affects people of all ages.”
It tends to occur in particular places on the body because those places are where you have the greatest concentrations of oil glands. Since acne occurs when these oil glands become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, you might think that keeping your skin very clean would minimize it. But that turns out to be a myth. In fact, if you scrub your skin hard enough, you can irritate it and worsen the acne.
The Role of Hormones
One of the biggest risk factors for acne is the presence of androgens, which are hormones that develop and maintain male characteristics. Androgens cause the oil glands to enlarge and create more oil, which creates more opportunities for clogging. The association of androgens with acne explains why it seems to occur more in people undergoing puberty and why it affects slightly more males than females. Pregnancy, which tends to create hormone imbalances, can often trigger or aggravate acne, too.
According to (PDF) the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), acne affects 71.7 per thousand of the population, slightly more males than females. Frankly, I find that surprising. If acne affects just over 7% of the population, that means more than 90% of us are avoiding it. I thought acne was a nearly universal experience. A 90% exemption rate not only sounds unrealistic; it’s unfair as well.
The Mayo Clinic describes a variety of treatments for acne. There are four kinds of topical medications (creams, lotions, and gels) that work by killing bacteria, fighting inflammation, or plugging hair follicles (which is where the oil glands are located). The follicle-plugging medications are retinoids and are derived from Vitamin A. There are also oral medications that fight bacteria or balance hormones, as well as one — isotretinoin — that has such bad side effects you aren’t allowed to take it without participating in an FDA risk management program.
There are also other therapies that may be applied if the medications don’t work. These include chemical peel, steroid injections, manual extraction of blackheads and whiteheads, and laser therapy. The Mayo Clinic doesn’t offer much detail on laser therapy. I don’t completely understand why the clinic has lumped laser therapy in with the last resort techniques. There are a number of clinical studies that have shown it helps. But more important, it probably carries the least risk of any treatment, including both the oral and topical medications.
Laser Therapy is Accessible
You don’t need to see a dermatologist to get access to laser therapy. At Peak Recovery & Health Center, we offer Celluma, a targeted photobiomodulation (PBM) technique. The photons from the Celluma are absorbed by skins cells, causing them to boost ATP production and accelerating healing. Celluma is FDA-cleared, and dozens of clinical studies and thousands of applications have shown it is non-toxic, non-invasive, safe, and painless. It requires no recovery time and can be used on all skin types.
A Celluma session takes 30 minutes. Until March 20 (2019), we are running a special that pairs Celluma with our Cryoskin facelift. Give us a call at (603) 402-4564 for more details, or book a Celluma session and see for yourself what it’s all about.