It’s said that roughly 95% of people will experience acne at some point in their lives. We know how hard it can be to treat and how it can affect your life. Unfortunately, treating acne isn’t just cleansing, spot treating and laser — There’s a lot going on here, and so we must take a comprehensive, holistic approach and treat the body as a whole from the inside out. Despite so many of us sharing this experience, it is still a condition without a “cure” or “one-size-fits-all” solution.
What causes Acne?
The golden question: What is causing my acne? Well, we don’t know for sure. That’s the hardest part about acne — there are so many factors involved, that there isn’t ever just one cause. As a broad cause of acne, we can blame inflammation in the body. Usually we look at you hormone health, stress levels, overall diet and lifestyle, as well as gut health.
No matter the type of acne that you have, whether it’s the odd hormonal breakout or consistent clusters of small bumps, even cystic acne, we always want to customize the approach that is taken. You are unique and so is your acne, so the first step in understanding your acne is to meet with a Skin Health Expert so that we can work together to solve your acne for good.
What is Acne?
Acne is the generic term for skin conditions characterized by a combination of blemishes which may be whiteheads or blackheads, papules, pustules, nodules or cysts. Acne Vulgaris is the medical term used to describe generalized acne. By definition, acne is the occurrence or inflamed or infected oil glands within the skin.
Zits, pimples, blemishes and spots — acne has a lot of names and variances, but generally we can categorize it as inflammatory or non-inflammatory acne, and within that we have four types or grades or acne. Essentially what your acne looks like and how it forms.
Blackheads, not to be confused with sebaceous filaments, occur when the pore is clogged with a combination of sebum and dead skin cells. The top of the pore will stay open, despite being clogged, and the hardened oil will then oxidize and give it that characteristic black or greyish colour that we see.
Whiteheads can also form when a pore is clogged by sebum and dead skin cells but they’re a little different from blackheads because the top of the pore closes up, so it looks like a small bump protruding from the skin. These blemishes are more difficult to treat because the pore is already closed. Lucky for you, they can easily be extracted by a NuAGE clinician with a lancet and a bit of TLC.
Papules are hard, clogged pores are tender to the touch. The skin around the pores is usually pink and slightly inflamed, but there is no “head” or visible pus below the surface. Papules usually occur when a blackhead or whitehead becomes infected and the walls surrounding your pores break down from the inflammation.
Pustules can also form when the follicular walls around your pores break down but, unlike papules, these blemishes are filled with pus. They usually appear much redder in colour and have a large yellow or white centre to them (yum).
Nodules happen if a clogged and swollen pore endures further irritation, it may grow into a nodule. Nodules tend to be much deeper within the skin than papules and pustules. Because these blemishes are so deep, they generally can’t be treated at home or with products. Oftentimes, an oral vitamin A is recommended to help decrease the size of the sebaceous gland within the pore.
Cysts or Cystic acne develops when pores are clogged by a combination of bacteria, sebum and dead skin cells. These blemishes are found even deeper in the skin, below nodules. They are often very large, red or white bumps and painful to the touch. Being the largest and most severe form of acne, they’re most commonly the result of a significant infection or bacterial imbalance within the body. This type of acne also has the highest likelihood of scarring.
Treatments for Acne
In most cases, we are able to treat acne at home (with the guidance of a medical aesthetician or other professional!) with high grade medical skincare, supplements and diet + lifestyle changes.
This treatment uses a 1064nm laser to bulk heat the skin, which helps to induce the body’s natural healing cascade. Since it is working by heating the tissue, the heat alone will kill acne-causing bacteria present and allow for the skin to detoxify itself. For very congested skin, this is an ideal treatment as we are able to manually extract blackheads, whiteheads and pustules.
This treatment is ideal when there is a combination of active breakouts as well as scarring, both pigmented scars and superficially textured scars.