Norris Dermatology & Laser Northwest Portland OR logo





Portland Acne Dermatologist

What is Acne?

AcneIn Portland, acne is a skin condition that may develop at any age. Acne consists of plugged pores (black and white heads), inflamed papules (pustules), and deeper lumps (nodules). Acne occurs on the face as well as on the neck, chest, back, shoulders and upper arms. Although most teenagers get some form of acne, acne may persist into adulthood. Often, acne clears up after several years, even without treatment. But it may persist and if left untreated, may cause permanent scarring, and can be disfiguring and upsetting for patients.

At Norris Dermatology in Portland, we individualize the treatment plan for our patients. The treatment plan includes a basic understanding of the cause of acne, understanding of a simple skin care regimen, dietary considerations that are known to flare acne as well as topical medications, oral antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories that minimize flare-ups.

What Causes Acne?

Acne on forehead

Acne is a disease of the hair follicle. The cause of acne is multifactorial.

  • Increase in hormones
  • Overproduction of sebaceous material – oil that leads to plugging of the hair follicle
  • Overgrowth of bacteria
  • Inflammation
  • Increase turnover of the lining of the hair follicle that leads to plugging of the hair follicle pore

Testosterone is hormone that is present in both males and females, increases during adolescence (puberty). It stimulates the sebaceous glands of the skin to enlarge, produce oil, and plug the hair follicle pores. White heads or blackheads, red and white bumps (pustules) are all present in teenage acne. When acne is severe and forms deep pus filled nodules, it is called cystic acne. This type of acne is more common in males.

Recent studies have shown that inflammation may be the first sign of acne. The cause of this inflammation include:

  • Excess oil on the skin
  • Loss of the barrier of the skin which may occur from washing with high pH or alkaline harsh soaps
  • Overgrowth of bacteria which may occur from overuse of antibacterial soap

Adult acne develops later in life and may be related to cosmetics, hormones, childbirth, menopause or even stopping birth control pills.

Acne has nothing to do with washing and is not due to dirt on the face. In face, recent studies have shown that over-washing the face may even cause more acne. It is best to wash your face with a very mild cleanser and warm water only one time a day. We recommend a pH-balanced soap when washing (pH around 5.5-6). Wash your face with warm water and pH balanced soaps gently rubbing your skin with your fingertips, Over washing and using gritty scrubs will most likely make acne worse.

Dietary Causes of Acne

Some foods have been shown to worsen acne such as some milk products and high glycemic diets. High glycemic foods include foods that are simple carbohydrates like ice cream, candy, pasta, bread and potatoes. Minimizing these foods may help clear acne. Some patients may also see a worsening of their acne if they drink cows milk, especially low fat cows milk. To learn more about the glycemic index, click here http://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/glycemic-index

You can learn more about acne treatments  at American Academy of Dermatology.