Acne Treatment and Prevention

  Acne by itself is not the main problem; it’s what you are left to deal with after your acne has healed. The key is to minimize pitted scars and PIH which may result from acne.  

Symptoms and Causes

Acne, referred to as acne vulgaris when the condition is acute or chronic, occurs when hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells and oil from the skin. Areas of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and oily skin can appear on any part of your body but are more evident on your face, back (back acne) and your shoulders. Oftentimes, acne will result in scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) once it has healed. Acne may be caused by hormonal changes (hormonal acne), genetics, diet, stress, grease and oil from frying or cosmetics, pressure on skin from helmets, and many other causes.

Chronic acne breakouts are challenging to treat. The individual is required to be disciplined in keeping up with the prescribed acne treatment regimen and this can sometimes require many years of commitment to the treatment regimen. Eventually the commitment and dedication does pay off and you are able to eradicate or get your acne breakouts under control.


Types of Acne

Whether you are dealing with face acne, back acne, or acne elsewhere on your body your treatment provider will need to identify what type of acne you are suffering from so that the correct treatment protocol can be followed.


Whiteheads are small blemishes with whitish heads which result when hair follicles become plugged with excess sebum and dead skin cells. When hair follicles are plugged they are referred to as comedones.


Blackheads are comedones that appear black in appearance due to the oxidation of the hardened sebum and dead skin cells trapped inside the hair follicle.


Papules are the acne phase beyond whiteheads which are characterized by red or pink bumps and a swollen appearance. They tend to be small to medium sized. The inflammation is caused by the presence of bacteria trapped under the skin along with excess sebum and dead skin cells and is generally sensitive to the touch.


Pustules are similar to papules but with the presence of whitish or yellowish pus along with a red ring around the bump. They may feel painful to the touch.

Severe acne (nodules, cysts, acne conglobata)

Nodules, cysts and acne conglobata are indicative of a more severe medical condition and are generally characterized by a full face of inflamed blemishes which are typically red and large in appearance. Topical over-the-counter treatments will likely not work and you should immediately see a dermatologist for a stronger program of treatment and to prevent scarring.

Before and After Treatment Pictures

acne on face and forehead
acne on face

(Results may vary with each individual and are not guaranteed)

Acne Treatment Options

Acne and the resulting acne scars is known to cause anxiety, reduced self-esteem and depression and adds to the burden of dealing with your acne.

The good news is that acne has been around forever and there are many treatment and prevention options available to help you improve the appearance of your acne; along with lifestyle changes and eating fewer simple carbohydrates like sugar.

In Clinic Treatments

Depending on the number and types of acne lesions present your acne will be classified as mild, moderate or severe and this will determine the treatment approach that will be considered for you. You should have a continuing relationship with a dermatologist to monitor your progress if you are on a prescribed treatment.

If you are exploring non-medication options the best facials for acne are chemical peels and acne facials which use acne specific treatment protocols of blended in-clinic pharmaceutical grade products to treat your acne. More advanced treatments will include laser acne treatments accompanied by laser acne scar removal. Your skin care advisor will suggest a treatment frequency that is best suited to the severity of your acne.

Best Acne Products for at-home care

After your in-clinic acne treatments you will need to continue your acne skin care at home. Your home care regimen complements and reinforces your in-clinic treatments as by itself you will not see treatment results quickly enough. We have put together for you to consider some of the best acne products we have had treatment success with. These are all pharmaceutical grade skin care products and should only be used after a consultation with your Essential Life skin care professional who will then tailor a complete acne home care regimen specific to your needs and skin condition.

  • Acne Cleanser – considered one of the best face wash for acne, SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel exfoliates, decongests pores, smooths skin texture, and brightens skin (lipo-hydroxy acid, glycolic acid, salicylic acid).
  • Acne Toner – SkinCeuticals LHA Toner contains a triple combination of exfoliating agents to efficiently remove excess residue and surface cells to decongest pores.
  • Acne Spot Treatment – considered one of the best serums for acne, SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense is a salicylic acid treatment for adult acne breakouts.
  • Retinol for Acne – Retinoid creams, part of the Vitamin A family, unclog the pores and prevent dead cells from further clogging your pores which can also help your other acne treatment products to absorb better. Available from SkinCeuticals in different formulation strengths of pure retinol as Retinol 0.3%, Retinol 0.5%, and Retinol 1.0%.

Acne is a skin condition where it helps to have a skin care coach. Much of your treatment success will come from working with an empathetic treatment provider who will encourage you along the way to stick with your treatment regimen.

Acne Scar Treatment

If you are receiving in-clinic professional treatment for your acne then the presumption is that your acne is at a more than casual level of concern and acne scars will be an issue to deal with once your acne has healed. Acne scars will either be post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark spots) caused by the trauma of the acne to the skin. Or, your scar will be pitted (atrophic) caused by an insufficiency of collagen produced during the post-acne healing process. If your skin tone is darker it may take many months before Acne PIH is cleared. So while the focus might be on resolving your acne, acne scar treatment has to be kept front and foremost in your treatment plan. Read more about acne scars.

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