Acne Treatment & Control

Acne is a problem anyone can have -- Henry Ford Dermatology has the tools to control it.

Many people think of acne as a problem only teens face. But anyone at any age can have acne -- though it’s most common during puberty in the teenage years.

If you or your teen has acne, we can help. Our specialists have the expertise and treatment options to stop it in its tracks.

Frequently asked questions about acne

If you have questions about acne, we’ve got the answers you need.

  • What causes acne?

    Acne is one of the most common facial skin conditions. The skin’s oil glands can become clogged as a result of the interaction between hormones and skin bacteria. When glands are clogged like this, they can swell and turn red as they form pimples. There are three main factors that contribute to acne:

    • Heredity: If you, your spouse, or your older children have had acne, your teen or tween may get acne too.
    • Hormones: When your child starts puberty, his or her hormones change, and one specific type of hormone called androgens increases. This increase causes the glands on your child’s face, back and upper chest to produce oil. That oil can cause acne in some people.
    • Clogged oil ducts: If your child is prone to acne, the cells in his or her oil glands may get larger, produce more oil, and clog. When oil is trapped in the gland, a blackhead or whitehead will form. This can produce a pimple, which is what causes the redness.

    Also, exposure to mineral oils and chemicals can cause an acne-like effect. Acne usually affects males more than females, and it’s less common among Asian-Americans and African-Americans.

  • What can make acne worse?

    Some medications, like lithium, corticosteroids, and oral birth control, can make acne worse or cause it in the first place. Certain cosmetics or hair products can clog pores and lead to more acne. Talk to your dermatologist about alternatives to these products and medications that won’t make acne worse. Look for makeup and cosmetics that are noncomedogenic, which means they’re less likely to clog pores.

    Other products or behaviors that can make acne worse include:

    • Emotional stress and nervous tension. Scientists still aren’t sure if stress has a direct effect on acne or if stress-related behaviors play an indirect role. But we do know that stress does play some part in the presence of acne.
    • Harsh scrubbing of the skin.
    • Headbands and other items that rub on the skin.
    • Picking and popping pimples. This forces oil onto the surrounding normal skin, which can cause redness and swelling.
  • What treatment options are available for acne?

    There is no cure for acne, and how long it lasts can vary. The best prevention for acne is to keep your glands unclogged and keep the oil controlled. There are different treatment plans that can keep acne under control.

    Benzoyl peroxide

    Topical benzoyl peroxide is a medicine that helps kill bacteria, unclog oil glands, and heal pimples. It’s the best treatment available without a prescription. There are benzoyl peroxide washes, lotions, and gels available in different strengths.

    Other acne treatment options

    If these medications don’t help, your doctor or your child’s doctor can prescribe medications to treat the acne. Our dermatologists are also available for referrals. We typically use a combination of treatments for severe acne. Some options include:

    • Retinoids -- a type of chemical compound related to vitamin A available in gel, cream, and liquid forms and in a variety of strengths
    • Isotretinoin - a retinoid that inhibits the function of the glands that produce oil
    • Topical antibiotics

    It’s important to be patient when your doctor prescribes acne treatment. It may take three to six weeks before you see any improvement. Make sure you or your child follows the prescribed treatment program every day exactly as your skin doctor has prescribed.

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