ACNE: the most common skin disorder in the U.S. effects more than 16 million teenagers. Pimples result when sebaceous glands at the base of hair follicles get clogged with oil, causing inflammation and attracting bacteria. Bacteria can turn blackheads and whiteheads into red, inflamed pimples. White blood cells rush to the scene, causing swelling as they fight the infection. Hormones can aggravate the condition, leaving teenagers, women about to have periods or on oral contraceptives particularly susceptible. Other aggravating factors include stress, food allergies, and poor diet.
CISTIC ACNE is a serious form of the disease that can result in permanent pits and scars. Heredity is a factor in cystic acne as well as in a tendency to have oily skin.
The inherited tendency may actually be an allergy to certain foods. Milk product are common culprits. Blemish problems may also be traced to certain drugs, being among the most common skin disorders encountered by dermatologists.
ANTIBIOTICS has been a mainstay of treatment, even for mild outbreaks. These drugs have been so overused that they are not as effective as they once were. Recent studies have shown that tetracycline, erythromycin, clindamycin, and doxycycline are all losing their effectiveness as the bacteria that cause acne have developed strains that are resistant to both oral and topical antibiotics. Antibiotics carry potential side-effects ranging from upset stomach and severe sunburn to arthritis and lupus, making alternatives to antibiotics worth considering.
ACCUTANE (isotretinoin), among a class of vitamin A derivatives called retinoids control severe acne quickly and effectively. Called the greatest advance in treating acne, accutane carries risk of side effects (inflamed and dry skin, aches and pains, sunlight sensitivity, hair loss, depression, liver problems, hepatitis, and a high rate of birth defects).