Are They Blackheads?

To most of us, blackheads are a sign of troubled skin and clogged pores. However, what you may be seeing are not actual blackheads, rather they are just that, pores!  Pores naturally contain a threadlike filament (a fiber formed from thickened oil and shed cells) that sometimes make the pores appear more obvious, called “sebaceous figments”. The size of a person’s pores is determined by genetics and larger pores are due to having larger oil glands (called sebaceous glands).  Therefore, larger pores may have more noticeable sebaceous figments, which are often mistaken for blackheads.

No matter what size a pore is, it is the nature of pores to contain these filaments, and we all have them, especially in areas of the face, such as the nose.  Sebaceous filaments appear as uniform dots of darkish pores (due to oxidation of the oil on top), whereas blackheads are larger, inconsistent and are darker. Blackheads are an indication of a clogged pore that may lead to a breakout or is a pore enlarged with skin debris.  A blackhead can be extracted and disappear, and although sebaceous filaments may be extracted to some degree, they will always return again due to normal skin cycles.

What can be done about them? Over- scrubbing and squeezing will damage the pore, and pore strips leave the pore open to collect debris and may appear larger over time.  But, the pore’s surface may be lightened with routine, gentle exfoliation and benzoyl peroxide, or covered with makeup.

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Acne and the Sugar #1

Through his studies and clinical experiences Dr. Perricone, the author of varies publications on skin care, has discovered that it’s cellular inflammation that cause many of the problems associated with aging, as well as many diseases, including acne. He says the key to preventing this kind of inflammation is to eat a diet that has been designed to prevent a rapid rise in blood sugar.
Why is this important? Because a rapid rise in blood sugar causes an insulin response in the body, which then causes an inflammatory response. Remember this simple fact: whatever food we eat is converted to sugar as it is digested. Different foods are converted to sugar at varying rates. If we consume foods that are rapidly converted to sugar, that is considered pro-inflammatory.

Pro-inflammatory foods cause all kinds of problems in the body resulting from a rapid rise in blood sugar, which in turn sparks a burst of inflammation on a cellular level. As our insulin rises, this triggers more inflammation throughout the body, such as acne breakouts.   See part 2

(Above are comments by Dr. Perricone )

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Acne and the Sugar #2

Continued from part 1

The cornerstone of an anti-inflammatory diet is the careful regulation of blood sugar and insulin levels so that inflammation on a cellular level can be controlled.

If one’s blood sugar is high, inflammation runs rampant throughout the body, resulting in feeling (and looking) terrible, low energy levels, susceptibility to infectious diseases, age-related diseases, and an increase in acne flare-ups. To optimize health and keep skin clear and beautiful we must avoid pro-inflammatory foods, which include the aforementioned sugar and everything that is rapidly converted to sugar, such as potatoes, pasta, bread, sugar, honey, cakes, cookies, candy, baked goods, dried fruits, sugary beverages, sweet drinks of any kind.

In addition to avoiding the pro-inflammatory foods, it is crucial to learn about the foods that have powerful anti-inflammatory activity. Many of these anti-inflammatory foods provide excellent sources of essential fatty acids (the good fats). The essential fatty acids designated as the omega 3s have powerful anti-inflammatory activity

Fresh fruits and vegetables are also wonderful foods with anti-inflammatory properties. Those possessing the most powerful anti-inflammatory activities are the ones that are brightest in color– that contain many ntioxidants including vitamin C and vitamin E, as well as the carotenoids.

To fight inflammation and improve acne, water is just as important as high-quality protein; essential fatty acids; and low-glycemic, antioxidant-rich carbohydrates.Water exerts an anti-inflammatory effect on our bodies, and when we combine plenty of water with an anti-inflammatory diet, there is a very rapid reduction of inflammation in the body with visible results on the skin. See part 1

(Above are comments by Dr. Perricone )

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Does the Sun Dry-Up Acne?


My acne clients often comment that going to the beach clears their acne (especially on the back), and this may very well be true, but not for the reason one may think. Most of us know about the dangers of lying out in the sun, such as skin cancers and advanced aging of the skin.  But for acne suffers it can be worse!  When you already have inflammatory acne lesions, the sun will make them redder, more inflammatory, take longer to resolve, and cause those older  red spots to last  longer.

Since there are so many negative aspects to being in the sun, then how can it dry up acne as people claim? Perhaps it is not the sun after all, but the heat causing your body to sweat.  Could it be that sweating cleans your pores, and therefore clears acne?  This is not exactly true since the sweat glands excrete through sweat “ducts”not the hair follicle pore where the acne bacteria reside.  However, there is a “salt” component of the sweat that has a drying effect to the skin. Although salt will not kill acne bacteria, it may give acne sufferers with oily skin a clean, tight feeling, and a little less inflammation.

Going to the beach may help acne due to salt from sweating and the salt in sea water.  This could be a really great thing if we could just eliminate the sun!

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Acne Scar or Not? #1

Polka Dots may be in fashion, but not on your face!

Most people mistaken red, dark spots and blotches after a blemish has resolved as a scar.  Even though your acne lesions have healed; they can still leave behind reminders. So what exactly is this blotch and why?

When tissue suffers an injury, the body rushes its “repair team” to the injury site. This specialized team work to fight infection and heal damaged tissue. Once the infection is gone, however, the tissue may be slow restoring itself to its former state, so the inflamed area flattens, leaving behind a reddish spot. Though it may look like a scar, it’s actually called a “macule”; the final stage of an acne lesion. When blemishes have subsided, the red/dark macules may remain causing the area to look worse than it actually is.

Macules (also referred to by professionals as “post inflammatory hyperpigmentation”) may last for up to 6-8 months, and although unsightly they leave no permanent scar! To avoid these unsightly marks, it’s important to treat a new, inflamed blemish early in its course, and for as long as necessary.  The more inflammation you can prevent, the less likely you are to get a lingering red/dark spot. So how can we prevent this inflammation?  See part 2

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Acne Scar or Not? #2

Continued from part 1

Polka Dots may be in fashion, but not on your face!

Macules and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation may be improved with a few select skin lightening agents (that our clinic carries), depending on the intensity of the area.  But most importantly, remember that what you are seeing is the result of the inflammation from the blemish. So the key is to get the inflammation down ASAP, when the blemish is new, to prevent spots and blotches from forming in the first place. You will also find that decreasing inflammation will speed healing time!

Ways to Decrease Inflammation:

  • BEST! Apply ICE to the area as often as possible. Rule of thumb, 2 minutes; count to 120 sec. while moving the ice around the face.
  • Apply hydrocortisone cream to the area –very short term (no more than 2-3 days)
  • Take Advil at night for a few days during the initial inflammatory stage.
  • Holistic remedy: mix a little “turmeric” from the spice cabinet with distilled water to form a paste and leave on overnight. Note: there will be some color left from the turmeric after washing, which will go away and can be covered with makeup.
  • Stay out of the sun and wear sun protection since the sun will intensify the area and slow the healing process

Finally, keep in mind that when a pimple is bothering you today, it will go away faster if you leave it alone.  If you pick at it, it may stick around forever as a blotchy reminder. Of course, if you have a particularly troublesome area, see your skin care specialist (better yet, visit our clinic!) for a safe, professional treatment or extraction.  See part 1 

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