Getting acne....Q&A............(part 3 of 5)

I’ve started getting acne spots. How long do they last?

This depends on what type of spots they are and, even then, it can
be very difficult to predict what will happen. Some spots will
appear and then disappear during the course of a day but others
will evolve more gradually through the various stages. Comedones
can be very persistent if they don’t get inflamed. Mildly inflamed
spots will last 5–10 days before settling down, but can leave a flat
red mark (macule) for several weeks. Nodules and cysts may last
for weeks or months unless you get some treatment.

What is the difference between a whitehead and a yellow-
head spot?

These two common terms describe quite different types of spot.
A whitehead is a closed comedone where the pore is blocked and
not open to the air. There is no inflammation (redness). A yellow-
head suggests a spot with pus in it. The medical term is a‘pustule’.
Whiteheads may become yellowheads if the blocked pore becomes

My daughter is only 9 but she seems to have developed…

What is acne?.....................(part 2 of 5 )

Below we outline the types of spots you can get, so you can tell whether you have a mild, moderate or severe problem. They do not all have to be present for you to have acne. Just one type will still mean you have this condition, and there are effective treatments no matter how bad your problem is.


These are the starting point of all acne. They begin as very small blockages in the pores. At this stage a blockage is referred to as a microcomedone – the comedone is too small to be seen. Microcomedones can progress to become larger comedones, or they can burst (rupture) internally, causing different types of spots.They burst because of the build-up of pressure and the damage that the inflammatory process does to the wall of the duct.

Whiteheads (closed comedones)

Some people think of whiteheads as a type of pus-like spots, but they are not. As the microcomedone gets larger, because swelling is building up behind the blockage, it becomes visible. If the initial blockage is quite dee…

What is acne? ......................(part 1 of 5)

‘Acne is just when you get a load of spots all over your face. You
probably need to have about 20 for it to be bad.’
‘I think it is when you don’t wash and your face gets all spotty
and horrible.’
Acne is, in fact, the world’s most common skin disease. You know you have it when your skin develops blackheads, whiteheads, or red or yellow spots and becomes greasy. These are the classic signs and it doesn’t matter how many you have for your doctor to confirm it as acne. Acne doesn’t care who you are, what colour your skin is or how old you are. However, it is far more
likely that, as you approach puberty, your skin will start to change enough to kick-start the ‘acne process’. What most people don’t know is that you don’t always grow out of it: 15 per cent of
women in their 40s are still troubled by acne, although for men is it less likely to carry on for so long.

It’s a cruel fact that acne feels most at home on your face, butt can also crop up on your neck, back, chest or shoulders. This is be…

Enhancing retinoid treatment for acne

Removal of comedones can also help to treat your acne and speed up improvement. Your dermatologist may perform acne surgery with a comedo extractor, a small instrument that mechanically removes comedones. Comedo removal can be a useful adjunct to topical therapy when your blackheads and whiteheads are somewhat resistant to topical retinoids.

Acne surgery is a noninvasive surgery, meaning that the blackheads and whiteheads are simply popped or squeezed out with the extracor. The extractoris a special instrument that minimizes skin injury.A round loop extractor is used to apply uniform smooth pressure to dislodge the material. Lesions that offer resistance are loosened by nserting a pointed instrument to carefully expose the contents.

Pretreatment with a topical retinoid for four to six weeks often facilitates the procedure because it helps open up your pores.Comedo extraction is performed less commonly nowadays since
the arrival of topical retinoids.

Comedo extraction is often performed su…

Dealing with side effects of retinoids

All retinoids can cause some skin irritation during the first few weeks of use. You may have some discomfort, such as stinging or burning, and sometimes may experience mild redness and scaling of your skin. These reactions are to be expected, and they’re an indication that the retinoid is working. After several weeks, your skin generally gets used to the medication and the discomfort eases.

A common belief is that retinoids dry the skin. But they’re actually sloughing off dead skin cells.

If you have a sensitivity to the retinoid you were prescribed, you can take a number of steps to help ease the irritation:

Build up a tolerance: Start off by using the retinoid every other day, or even less frequently, until you get used to it.If you have extremely sensitive skin, try applying the retinoid for short periods of time, such as leaving it on for a few minutes and then washing it off. You can put it on for as little as two to five minutes. This tends to make it more tolerable and the medicin…

Topical acne treatment :Applying retinoids like a pro

Topical retinoids are applied in small, thin, pea-sized amounts to clean, dry skin once a day in the morning or at bedtime. They should be applied to all affected areas as well as to places that are
acne-prone. Retin-A (not Retin-A Micro) and Avita, which tend to degrade in sunlight, should be applied only at bedtime. Talk with your doctor about the best time to apply Retin-A Micro, Differin, and Tazorac.

Dermatologists often start treatments with a lower strength preparation; in time, your doctor may prescribe higher concentrations of the active ingredient, if necessary, depending on your ability to tolerate them.

Within six to eight weeks, you should notice improvement if you have been using your product continuously. Maximal improvement most often occurs by three to four months.

Despite the common misconception, acne does not flare in the first few weeks of treatment; rather, the “flare” is due to irritation from the retinoid or from the natural progression of your acne, so try to“ride…

Generic versus “branded generic” drugs

It’s a tricky business trying to find cheaper drugs. When a famous drug such as Retin-A has its patent expire, it can then become a generic (unbranded) drug. As an example, once a brand becomes generic, the original company often ceases to promote or support it. Sometimes this can be a real benefit because the generic version tends to be considerably cheaper. Hurray!

But, after a while, some generic companies come along and obtain approval from the FDA to manufacture the drug and they put the original brand name on it. When that happens, the branded genericprice becomes higher than the generic price because of the cost of marketing.

Sounds like double speak, a kind of contradiction in terms, doesn’t it? The bottom line is try to be an educated consumer. Read labels and compare prices! To find an updated list of generic and branded generic drugs, go to:


Because of the known teratogenic effects (anything which produces nonheritable birth …