“Acne vulgaris” is the medical name for what you simply know as acne. The “vulgaris” bit is simply the medical term for “common.” The full name helps to distinguish it from other less common types of acne. While acne affects most people in their teenage years, it can affect people of any age. In fact, it is the most common skin disease in the United States. It affects a whopping 80% of Americans at some point in their lives. Thankfully, dermatological treatments are available for skin conditions.

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The Pathophysiology of Acne Vulgaris

Acne consists of spots like blackheads, whiteheads, and other pimples. Although acne is most well-known for occurring on the face, it can also appear on the forehead, chest, shoulders, and upper back. The reason acne appears most on those areas of your skin is because they have the most sebaceous glands. Your hair follicles are attached to those oil glands. The four primary factors that cause acne are:

  • Excess sebum oil production.
  • Hair follicles being clogged with oil and dead skin cells.
  • Inflammation.
  • Bacteria. 

Acne can be classified as either inflammatory or noninflammatory. The former is characterized by pustules, papules, nodules, and cysts. The latter is characterized by comedones, which are sebaceous plugs impacted within hair follicles. 

How Dermatologists Treat Acne?

While there are over-the-counter products available for acne vulgaris, if you want to ensure you get the best treatment for your particular needs, it is recommended you get the advice of a dermatologist. Organizations like Nava MD create personalized skincare treatment plans once a qualified dermatologist has reviewed your personal condition. The precise acne treatment plan depends on many considerations, including:

  • The type of acne you have.
  • Where the acne is on your body.
  • When the breakouts began.
  • Your age.
  • Whether the acne has left dark spots or scars on your skin.
  • What treatments you have already tried.

Treatments for Specific Types of Acne

A personalized acne treatment plan is the best way of ensuring you get the right treatment for your particular skin condition. Dermatologists also use different treatments depending on the type of spots you have. For instance, if you have whiteheads or blackheads or both, your treatment plan could include a medication you apply to your skin that contains either a retinoid or a benzoyl peroxide, or a combination of both with additional azelaic acid or salicylic acid. The same treatments can be used for mild or moderate pimples.

If you have acne nodules and cysts that leave permanent scars, there are effective treatments that can help you to gain clearer skin and prevent new scarring from occurring. The most common treatment is a prescription medication that you apply to your skin in combination with an antibiotic. For severe cases, you could be approved for the medication isotretinoin. Women can also try hormonal therapy. 

In certain cases, a dermatologist may recommend additional treatments. Many studies show laser and light therapy can help to clear severe acne, although the treatment works best in conjunction with other treatments. Another option sometimes recommended by dermatologists is a corticosteroid injection, although that is reserved for people who have deep acne and experience extreme pain. In such cases, a corticosteroid injection can rapidly relieve the pain and reduce the size of the acne breakout. 

In addition to the treatment options outlined above, many studies have shown that what you eat can often help you to get clearer skin. So, a dermatologist may also recommend you alter your diet and cut out certain foods.