What is the best way to treat acne? acne vulgaris is a scourge of teenagers everywhere, vulgaris sounds bad but in fact it’s an old word that means common which acne certainly is, acne is fascinating in the pantheon of diseases, many of us trivialize it as simply part of teenage life that fades and really doesn’t have any health consequences but what if framed in a different way acne is a disease that makes people feel bad, often very bad about themselves just when it’s most critical that they feel good about themselves, it’s a disease that can scar for life but that could have been prevented, a disease that research shows us as damaging to quality of life as chronic distressing conditions such as asthma, epilepsy or diabetes and the timing is so unfortunate just as we start to be more aware of our parents, the oil geysers that are located in their upper chest, back, neck and face, all highly visible areas begin pumping out skin grease, adults can get acne, about ten percent still have it at twenty five but almost all teenagers do get acne with one in five having a more severe case, it tends to come on earlier in women but the dudes get it a little bit worse, unlike most acne resources on the internet, I’m not going to offer you a hundred percent cure, there really is no cure for acne, most of the therapies I’m going to discuss have about a 40 to 70 percent success rate, getting to a higher success rate really depends on you finding your own special recipe that often requires you to combine different agents, what we call step up therapy. The first piece of advice is to talk to your doctor about it, say this, “my doctor has seen more embarrassing things than whatever I show him or her” so bring acne up and go back if your treatment isn’t working, now I bet I can guess the current approach some of you are taking who are suffering from acne, perhaps you wash your skin vigorously to keep blackheads to a minimum, maybe you put pimple cream on whenever you have an outbreak and you might even avoid certain foods that you think worsen your acne, well actually, the blackheads is really just melanin and oxidized lipids not dirt, so cleaning vigorously or picking can actually inflame pimples, washing once daily with the mild soap or soap less cleanser is fine.
Putting pimple cream on your existing acne doesn’t actually make much of a difference, key learning is that when you’re treating acne, you are actually not doing much for the current pimple, you’re preventing the next round so if you are applying a cream it needs to go on where you get pimples, for most people this is what we call the t-zone, it takes six to eight weeks and sometimes longer to see if acne treatment is working. Now diet and acne is interesting, most research shows no connection but the trial quality is generally poor, for example, studies trying to provoke acne with large amounts of chocolate didn’t show a fact but the trials were too short and too small to be definitive, a small trial using a low glycemic diet showed some improvement but I’d say there’s not enough evidence at this time to recommend one way of eating over another, the answer is likely just eating healthily and if a patient finds a big difference with the food, I say eat less of that food.