What causes Acne?

Clogged skin pores are the common precursor to all types of acne: blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and cysts. Hormone surges associated with puberty, menstruation and other conditions cause excessive skin oil (called sebum) that promotes clogging of pores. Blackheads (called open comedones) are sebum and dead skin clogged pores that are open to the skin surface. Whiteheads (called closed comedones) develop when the surface opening becomes blocked. Excess sebum also promotes overgrowth of bacteria that cause inflammatory acne, or pimples, that appear red, warm, swollen or painful. Larger, deeper inflammatory acne lesions are called acne cysts or nodules. Acne cysts or nodules can be very painful and may heal with scarring. Heredity factors also play a role in acne and or acne scar development.

Acne Myths

#1 – Acne is caused by poor hygiene.

#2 – Acne is caused by diet. Extensive scientific studies have failed to demonstrate a clear relationship between diet and acne. However, more recent studies show that a high glycemic index diet (i.e. foods rich in carbohydrates) may promote acne. Eating greasy, fatty foods has not been proven to cause or aggravate acne. However, working in an oily environment, such as a kitchen with fry vats, can promote acne because these cooking oils tend to get on your skin and block pores like sebum does.

#3 – Acne is just cosmetic. Acne and or resultant scars can affect a person’s self esteem and how he or she interacts socially.

#4 – You have to just let acne run its course. Modern medicine can control or cure acne, preventing or minimizing scars.

#5 – Cosmetics cause acne. Oil-Free, non-comedogenic (i.e. non pore-clogging) make-ups, moisturizers and sunscreens do not cause or worsen acne, nor do they interfere with the actions of acne medications.

Skin Care for Acne:

  • Wash your face gently twice per day with a skin cleanser formulated for acne, such as our Acne Clarifying Cleanser.
  • Additionally, use water to rinse off sweat after exercise or other strenuous activities.
  • Astringents (alcohol), masks, toners, and exfoliators may or may not be helpful.  Overuse may cause irritation, especially when combined with medications. Use as directed by your dermatologist.
  • Avoid greasy/oily hair-care products that can clog pores and promote acne. Also, shampoo daily if your hair is oily.
  • Do not pick, pop or squeeze acne, as this causes irritation / inflammation, worsens acne, prolongs healing and increases your risk of scarring.
  • Use skin care products & makeup that are oil-free and “non-comedogenic”. Non-comedogenic skin care products do not clog skin pores. Also, remove makeup at the end of the day.

Treatment Options for Acne:

Treatment options include:

  • Topical medications (cleaners and leave-on medications or products)
  • Oral medications such as antibiotics, spironolactone or isotretinoin (Accutane)
  • Extractions/drainage & intralesional injections for acne cysts/nodules
  • Chemical peels
  • Laser and light-based therapies such as infra-red light, Blu-U blue light, and photodynamic therapy (PDT), among others

Generally, we treat mild facial acne with topical acne medications only. Moderate to severe or extensive acne is treated with a combination of topical and oral medications.  Antibiotics are our usual first line oral medication choice, while isotretinoin (Accutane) is for more severe acne or antibiotic failure. Anti-androgen spironolactone (Aldactone) is another oral option for females, as are certain hormone combination-type oral contraceptives.

Although isotretinoin is nearly 100% effective and the only medicinal acne cure, significant but rare side effects do exist. Monthly evaluations and blood checks are necessary to detect these side effects.

For more info about isotretinoin (aka Accutane, Amnesteen, Claravis, or Sotret), please download the iPledge Patient Introduction Isotretinoin Brochure or the Accutane MedGuide or visit the isotretinoin iPledgeProgram website.

Intralesional injection medications (i.e. diluted corticosteroids) are reserved for larger, painful inflamed acne cysts/nodules. Occasionally, an acne-related abscess (pus collection) will require incision and drainage. Adjunct treatments include microdermabrasion, acne facials, chemical peels and laser or light-based therapies, including Blu-U blue light or PDT. Safe, painless infrared laser or other light-based therapies for acne and acne scars are an effective alternative to isotretinoin for difficult or persistent acne.

Untreated acne can quickly and insidiously lead to permanent, undesired scars. Early diagnosis and treatment are paramount. Don’t wait until it is too late, contact us today to help you.

Contact us at or call us at (702) 243-6400 to schedule a personalized acne treatment consultation.

Why Choose Us
At Strimling Dermatology, Laser & Vein Institute, we are committed to providing the highest quality, personalized care in a safe, friendly, caring, respectful and state-of-the-art environment; as we ourselves would want to be treated.
We respect your time and endeavor to provide prompt appointments with sufficient time to listen to your concerns, answer your questions and help you understand your condition and management or treatment options.
Services are provided or supervised by our highly experienced, board-certified dermatologists. With over 25 years experience, our “Award Winning Cosmetic Surgeon” Dr. Robert Strimling, MD is one of the most experienced cosmetic dermatologists in Las Vegas. Our dermatologists have been selected or voted “Best Dermatologists” in Las Vegas and nationally many times.
From Las Vegas or out-of-town, our patients come from all walks of life. Other physicians, CEOs, celebrities, politicians and others have sought our services.
All patients are welcome, including those without insurance. Medicare and most insurances are accepted.
We are appreciative and grateful for all our patients who entrust us with their care. Thank you!
Contact us at or text or call (702) 243-6400 to schedule your personalized consultation.