Solving the Mystery of Acne: Causes, Treatment and Prevention

For many people, acne is embarrassing. It is largely a temporary skin condition most commonly occurring on the face and forehead, but can also occur on the chest, shoulders, and back. Acne is seen as something to be endured during the awkward teen years and treated with varying degrees of success with over-the-counter (OTC) creams and skincare

For others, however, acne can be longer lasting, more severe, and devastating to one’s self-esteem. Understanding what acne is, along with its causes, treatments, and strategies to prevent it from developing or worsening, can go a long way toward solving an individual’s acne problem and restoring self-confidence.

What is Acne?

Acne is an inflammation of the skin glands that results from hair follicles becoming clogged with excess oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells. Acne outbreaks may consist of:

  • closed plugged pores called blackheads
  • open plugged pores called whiteheads
  • small red bumps on the skin
  • larger pimples 

Acne may also present under the skin as either hard or solid bumps.

What Causes Acne?

The culprit is sebum, an oily lubricant secreted from the sebaceous glands in our pores. During adolescence, sebum production increases when it mixes with bacteria and dead skin cells, pores can become clogged and cause skin to erupt. 

Stress, perspiration, and wearing tight clothing that presses perspiration against the body can also cause acne to develop. In addition, certain medications can impact a person’s hormonal balance and bring on an outbreak.  

How to Treat Acne

Proper cleansing

Facial and body acne can often be treated effectively with mild, OTC cleansers that are designed to attack the bacteria that causes acne. Check the ingredients on the topical products you buy. Your best choices will include salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.


Bacteria isn’t the only element that clogs skin pores. Dead skin cells are also a problem. Dermatologists recommend regularly exfoliating your skin with non-abrasive scrubs. Look for products with alpha- or beta-hydroxy acids.

Shower regularly, especially after perspiring

Following a healthy hygiene routine can help reduce outbreaks. Leaving sweat on your skin after perspiring may worsen acne outbreaks.

Talk to a professional

Sometimes when acne is particularly severe, OTC medications are simply not enough to successfully treat it. In such cases, you may wish to consult with a qualified dermatologist, such as Dr. Melissa Erwin of Erwin Dermatology in El Campo, Texas. She’ll perform a complete assessment of your skin condition and help devise a treatment plan that will best work for you. 

There are several dermatologist-recommended treatments for problem acne. These may include prescription-strength topical remedies or oral medications. Other therapies provided by a dermatologist may include chemical peels, and physically extracting blackheads and whiteheads with special tools or steroid injections.   

Schedule Your Consultation with Erwin Dermatology

We all want to have glowing skin that looks and feels healthy. If problem acne is keeping you from that goal, schedule a consultation with Dr. Melissa Erwin of Erwin Dermatology. Don’t hesitate to call her today at 979-543-9933.