The acne blemishes you see today formed several weeks ago. Deep within your pores, sebaceous glands produce sebum, an oil that hydrates skin and keeps it supple. Skin constantly renews itself, so old cells die and mix with your skin’s natural oils. Normally, these dead skin cells shed to reveal fresh, new skin.

But some cells shed unevenly and clump together to form a plug, or comedo, that traps oil and bacteria inside the follicle, causing it to swell. Your body responds by attacking the bacteria with white blood cells and a few weeks later, a pimple pops out. Acne ranges from milder comedonal (blackheads and whiteheads) to moderate (pustular) to severe, cystic breakouts. In many cases, several or all of these forms of acne can be present at one time.

Acne affects 85 percent of all teenagers and 20 percent of adults. It most commonly occurs on the face in teenagers and young adults, but can affect other areas such as the neck, trunk, arms and buttocks.

Raleigh Dermatology will evaluate your acne condition to establish a specific and effective diagnosis, define and eliminate potential flare factors, and explain the appropriate treatment. Topical acne therapies include cleansers that remove excessive surface skin oil, retinoids that unlock plugs from within the follicle, and benzoyl peroxides and antibiotics that suppress bacterial overgrowth and inflammatory activity in the oil glands. Oral acne treatments consist of various antibiotics and hormonal preparations, including oral contraceptives and Accutane.

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