What Is Acne?
Before we discuss how to treat acne, let’s first describe what acne is. Acne is an inflammatory condition of the oil glands and hair follicles, causing clogging of the pores and overproduction of oils and bacteria to build up in the follicle.
All of this leads to inflammation resulting in acne. Oil glands and hair follicles are prominent on the skin of the face, chest, and back and these are common locations where acne forms.
Acne presents in various ways. There are whiteheads and blackheads, medically known as comedones; red bumps and pus bumps, also known as papules and pustules respectively, and lastly deep painful bumps under the skin, known as nodular cystic acne.
Acne can affect any age group; it is not restricted to teenagers. In my patient population, I see a lot of adult females who are experiencing acne for the first time.
Treatment depends on the type of acne one has.
For comedones, one of the best treatments is a topical retinoid/retinol
This class of medication helps smooth the bumps and turnover of the cells of the skin so that clogging will not occur. Topical retinoids can be found over the counter or by prescription.
One side effect of this medication is that it can often cause dryness and irritation. I usually recommend the application of a pea-sized amount to the affected areas a few times a week as tolerated. It is important to see a dermatologist to learn how to properly apply this medication for the best outcome for you.
Other over the counter medications include topical salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide cleansers and acne spot treatments
These products help to decrease bacteria buildup in the follicles allowing the acne to clear. All of these medications are equally helpful for papules and pustules as well.
Other acne treatments that can help include chemical peels and acne masks
Peels contain an acid that interacts with proteins of the skin to cause exfoliation and can improve the tone and texture of the skin and can clear acne. Usually, multiple treatments are done every 2-4 weeks. A common peel used for acne is a salicylic acid peel. Peels tend to work faster than over the counter products.
Facial masks are en vogue now. Acne masks that contain any of the following may help with forehead acne: salicylic acid, glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide, niacinamide, oatmeal, sulfur, and/or clay.
All of these ingredients work on acne a little differently to help clear the skin. It may take some trial and error, but with patience and consistency, these products can work.
Make sure to avoid makeup or products with oil in them if you have forehead acne
Oils may further clog pores and contribute to acne. Wash the face at least daily with a gentle acne cleanser.