Understanding Acne with Dr. Mottram | Aesthetics at The Skin Clinic
Let’s face it, from time to time we have all been troubled by the unwelcome arrival of a few spots, but for some this can be persistent with acne considered more than a minor inconvenience to many. In this month’s column, Dr. Mottram helps us understand the main causes of acne, the rationale behind treatments advised and the aesthetic treatments available at The Skin Clinic, Galgorm.
What is Acne and who is typically affected?
Acne is described as an inflammatory disorder of the Sebaceous (oil) glands. It is one of the most common dermatological disorders and is in fact considered a chronic disease. While it is commonly recognised as a condition that affects teenagers and young people, with acne often clearing up spontaneously, it is often overlooked that there is an important group of people greatly troubled by acne in later life. It is reported that affects 12% of women and 3% of men over the age of 25.
What are the 4 main causes of Acne?
• Increased oil production: The oil glands increase production in response to hormone (androgen) levels. This explains peaks in puberty, at certain times of your menstrual cycle, sometimes during menopause and with polycystic ovaries.
• Comedone formation: (Blackheads & Whiteheads) These are formed when pores become blocked by skin debris and dead skin cells. Blackheads are open pores while whiteheads are enclosed.
• Bacteria living on the skin: (Cutibacterium Acnes) The bacteria thrive on the increased oil, dead skin cells and skin debris leading to the formation of painful inflamed spots.
• Production of inflammation: Bacteria multiplying in the blocked pores triggers the body’s immune response from the blood’s white cells (lymphocytes) leading to redness, swelling and often pain.
Why and how do we treat acne?
For those who suffer from acne it may range from being a little irritating, to physically painful, resulting in scarring and irregular pigmentation, to causing significant psychological stress and to social withdrawal. For all these reasons it is vital we try to tailor treatment to the individual.
Looking at the 4 main causes can help direct us to your best treatment options. Once you have given over the counter acne treatments a trial for 6-8 weeks you may need something else. Knowing what causes acne, we need to focus our treatments on:
1. Reduce Oil/Sebum: Physically or by hormone control
2. Gentle Exfoliation: Removing the dead skin cells and debris that clog pores and cause acne (harsh exfoliation may worsen acne)
3. Eliminate bacteria: Acne causing bacteria are killed or prevented from forming therefore reducing spots.
4. Reduce Inflammation: Reduces the redness and irritation from the acne
What treatment options are available?
Dr Andrew Mottram currently works as a GP with enhanced skills in dermatology and has had a special interest in dermatology, running skin clinics since 2009. Typically, NHS treatments consist of topical creams, oral antibiotics and oral contraceptive pills. Isotretinoin capsules, commonly known as Roaccutane, are another option available, however these can only be supplied in a hospital setting with blood monitoring at present in NI.
In addition to prescription medications, Dr. Mottram offers a range of acne treatments at The Skin Clinic, including:
1. Personalised Prescription Skin Care: Dr Mottram works closely with pharmacy professionals to formulate specific combinations of Tretinoin, Niacinamide & Azelaic acid which is a real game changer not only for acne and acne rosacea but also for sun damage, pigmentation concerns and even wrinkles.
2. Medical Grade Peels: Superficial and medium grade peels are an excellent treatment for acne prone skin. They promote exfoliation of the uppermost layer of the skin allowing healthier cells to the top. Salicylic acid in addition to promoting exfoliation unclogs blocked pores by breaking down oils, is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. A series of peels is recommended for optimum results.
3. Medical grade Microdermabrasion & Peel Combination: This uses infiltration of serum to the skin then gentle suction and graded exfoliation to remove much of the skin’s dead cells and environmental debris. A suitable medical grade peel is then selected and as the dead cells have been removed, the effect of mild-medium grade peel is greatly enhanced. A series of these is recommended.
4. Dermapen Microneedling: This medical grade device is not only great for active acne but amazing for even severe acne scarring. It feels like an electric toothbrush on the skin after numbing cream has been applied. It is effective in reducing active acne, rosacea, thread veins, uneven pigmentation, and even severe scarring. It involves very little down time and can get results equivalent to laser therapy after a course of 4 treatments.
5. Dermalux Flex MD: Medically CE certified device for the treatment of acne, psoriasis & wound healing. This device uses a combination of specific wavelengths of light which can provide great improvements when other treatments have failed. I liken it to removing the sun’s harmful UV rays and only using very narrow band wavelengths to heal the skin. This can be used after treatments or even rented for home treatment.
If you are suffering from acne, it is important to know that there are treatment options available. For more information on Aesthetics at The Skin Clinic and to contact Dr. Mottram, please visit galgorm.com