Acne is the most common skincare problem seen by doctors and is often viewed as a rite of passage and a temporary condition. However, those who have experienced acne know all too well that acne can be physically and emotionally painful as well as draining to experience. 

At Nielsen Clinic (Calgary), we treat patients who feel they have tried everything. From dietary changes, antibiotic therapies, light therapy, and skin peels to laser therapy, their stubborn acne remained. Fortunately, not all hope is lost as we can help our patients get to the root of their skin problems. 

Below are sections offering information for common questions as well as the various elements of acne.

+ What is Acne?

Acne shows up on your skin as red pimples and can appear on your face, neck, chest, shoulder and back.

Acne takes two to three weeks to appear on your skin surface. During this period your body does a few things that result in the development of your acne spots.

+ What causes Acne and Pimples?

For those who have acne, it can be overwhelming and confusing as to how to get rid of it. Having acne is not your fault! Several factors can determine the severity of acne and who may get acne. Factors such as hormones, genetics and emotional stress play a role in acne, most of which your body needs internal support to help get your skin acne free.

Step 1 – Your skin gets out of balance
Your skin depends on a healthy balance of moisture, skin flora and shedding phases. Inside your skin, your body contains hair follicles that contain a special gland (sebaceous gland) that produces oil (sebum). Without this natural production of oil, our skin would be dry, dull, irritated and flaking.

Additionally, your skin contains several various species of bacteria that help protect your skin.

Step 2 – Your hair follicles gets blocked
As your skin sheds to make room for new skin, your dead skin cells block your pores causing the oil (sebum), dead skins and bacteria to get trapped inside your pores.

Step 3 – Your skin gets inflamed and develops acne
The combination of sebum, dirt, dead skin cells and trapped bacteria (P. acnes - Propionibacterium acnes, clinically can cause redness, swelling and pus), causes the surrounding skin cells to become inflamed and swollen, triggering your immune system to produce white blood cells resulting in the development of acne.

+ Who gets acne?

Babies, teenagers, and adults can develop acne. Even those who have clear skin likely had a couple of acne spots in their lifetime.

Baby Acne (acne neonatorum)
Baby acne can show up two weeks after birth, usually affecting the nose and cheeks, and showing up in small red pimple-like presentations which usually does not require treatment. While baby acne can affect up to 20% of newborns, the good news is that baby acne often clears up in three months on its own. Best of all, baby acne does not mean that your child will develop acne later on in life.

HELPFUL TIP: If your child's acne is worsening it might be due to contact with fabric, saliva, milk or that your child is getting too hot. If your child's skin gets worse or does not improve, take your child to get checked over to rule out any other skin ailments.

Teen Acne
While teen acne often is seen as a right of passage by some, studies have shown that teens who develop acne earlier can develop severe acne as they progress through their teen years.

Teen acne occurs during puberty due to the increase of sex hormones. The group of hormones responsible for this is called androgens, which increases the number of oil glands (sebaceous glands), thereby increasing the production of oil (sebum).

HELPFUL TIP: Treating acne early can help teens avoid permanent scarring as well as preventing their acne from becoming severe. An added benefit of early intervention can contribute to maintaining a teen's positive self-image and self-esteem.

Adult Acne
Just when you thought your teenage years were behind you, adult acne decides to pop up. The last decade has seen a significant increase in adults being diagnosed with acne and seeking treatment for acne.

The Journal of American Academy of Dermatology has shown that 40-55% of adults between the ages of 20-40 years old have been diagnosed with persistent acne, and for women older than 25 it is estimated that more than 50% of them suffer from facial acne.

Factors such as an increase in stress levels and its impact on hormonal regulations are believed to play a significant role in adult acne. Women who suffer from acne often may find that their acne flare-ups are related to their menstrual cycle, pregnancy or menopause years. This is often referred as cyclical acne.

HELPFUL TIP: Find a treatment approach that deals with stress and its impact on hormones. Avoid steroid based medications (orally or topically) as they often aggravate acne and can have side effects that can affect an individual's health after prolonged use.

+ How bad can acne get?

Acne can vary for every individual. There are three different types of acne which are based on its physical presentation.

  1. Mild Acne - acne that is close to the surface that is not inflamed or deep.

  1. Moderate Acne - acne that is deeper and accompanied by redness.

  1. Severe Acne - acne that has a lot of inflammation, redness, and many acne spots that are often accompanied by painful breakouts (cystic acne).

+ Physical & Emotional Effects of Acne

Acne can have both physical and emotional effects even long after acne leaves. Those who suffer from cystic acne have experienced acne at its worst with both the discomfort and scarring that often accompanies their acne.

Negative Physical Effects of Acne

Acne can result in scarring of the skin. This occurs when your body's tissue becomes injured and sends cells to repair the damage. As a result, your skin tissue becomes damaged and shows scarring.

Emotional Effect of Acne
Acne is not just skin deep and it can leave you feeling depressed, hopeless and at times prevent you from going out. In the United States, acne alone costs 2.2 billion dollars annually from lost productivity and depression as a result (Archives of Dermatology).

Irrespective of how severe acne can be, many of us become self-aware of our acne spots. However, acne often shows up during the major transitions or stress periods in our lives, further adding to one's emotional stress.

For teenagers, acne occurs during their teen years, just when a teenager's body image and self-esteem are already under much pressure. However, acne can affect an adult's emotional well-being even more than that of a teenager.

Studies have found that adults who suffer from mild acne have been shown to have low self-esteem, depression, social withdrawal and suicidal thoughts.


Natural Acne Treatment - NIELSEN CLINIC 3R's (Remove Restore & Rejuvenate)

Remove Inflammation & Infection

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Remove inflammation and infection at the source.

Restore Your Skin

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Restore your skin's flora and normalize your skin's oil production. 

Rejuvenate Your Skin

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Improve your skin tone by reducing scarring and skin discoloration.