Acne affects up to 50 million people every year, and it’s not just a teen thing either, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Way too many adults will break out into their 30s, 40s and even 50s, and an unlucky few can even develop acne for the first time as adults.
And although the treatment of this common skin condition has remained the same for years, researchers are finally getting closer to identifying the root cause of acne and as a result, the pipeline is now bursting with new treatments.
Inflammation has become quite the buzz word in medical circles, and it is increasingly linked to a host of diseases and conditions including acne. The new thinking is that inflammation may be the first step in the development of acne, and that the inflammatory process continues even after the acne is gone. Some studies suggest that an anti-inflammatory dose of antibiotics may help treat acne. Antibiotics are already prescribed to treat acne, but the thought was that they worked by killing bacteria in lesions. Anti-inflammatory doses are lower than those needed to kill bacteria, and this may help reduce risk of antibiotic resistance.
2-NEW DRUG TARGETS
There’s a robust pipeline of anti-acne therapies with different targets and modes of action that has acne researchers super excited. A few drugs in late-stage development target increased production of sebum, which can lead to a blockage of the sebaceous gland and cause acne. These include Dermira’s DRM01 and Novan’s topical nitric oxide drug candidate SB204. What’s more, rubbing silver- and gold-impregnated formulations into the skin so they can penetrate the sebaceous follicle, and then irradiating it with a light source to destroy the sebaceous gland, is another promising approach. One company, Sebacia, is using gold nanoparticles to selectively enter the hair follicle and penetrate to the depth of the sebaceous gland. The theory is that we may not even need sebaceous glands after all, and destroying them can clear up acne for good.
Lasers and lights are often used to treat acne and prevent it from coming back, and dermatologist are getting much smarter about how and when to use these devices alone and in combination both at home and in the office. Many devices exert anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects and may reduce the size of sebaceous glands.
Silk’n blue is a home-use device combining blue LED light with infrared heating for a major improvement in acne, shares Judith Hellman MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. In just three months, pimples decreased 40 percent to 45 percent, on average, with more than 60 percent in some people. “In just a few minutes a day, the blue LED light, in combination with deep heating provided by infrared technology, kills acne-causing bacteria,” she says. “Consistent use of Silk’n Blue will keep the skin clear. I don’t know of a better home treatment for anyone suffering from acne.”
Smart skincare is another essential component of the anti-acne equation. Topical antimicrobials, such as benzoyl peroxide, combined with a topical retinoid is a popular regimen of choice among many dermatologists.
ZO Skin Health makes it easy with the ZO Skin Health Acne Prevention and Treatment Program. According to Beverly Hills, CA dermatologist Sameer Bashey, this comprehensive kit include Offects® Exfoliating Cleanser, Offects® Exfoliating Polish, Offects® TE-Pads Acne Pore Treatment Pads and the Ossential® Bio-Sulfur Masque. “With daily consistent use, these four core products can keep acne-prone skin clear and healthy,” he says.
Other trends have more to do with diagnostic technology, virtual dermatologists, and improving access to dermatologists in places where they are in short supply.
Snapping a selfie of a blemish and sending it to your dermatologist may be the wave of the future, a new study suggests. This may have the same effect as in-person evaluations, according to a pilot study in JAMA Dermatology. In fact, there was “strong or excellent agreement across the board on different acne assessment measures,” says Vishal A. Patel, M.D., of Science 37 Inc., and the study’s corresponding author, in a news release. The study was conducted to test the Network Oriented Research Assistant (NORA) technology platform, which is also being evaluated for other skin conditions, including vitiligo and rosacea.
Among the growing category of healthcare apps, MDAcne, founded by Dermatologist Yoram Harth, allows people with acne to take a selfie on their phone and have their skin analyzed. Based on the analysis, you get customized anti-acne medications that are specifically personalized to your skin type and acne severity.
Unfortunately, it isn’t all perfect on the acne care front, especially when it comes to the new rules for insurance coverage. Acne treatments used to be covered by most insurance plans, well, not anymore! In today’s volatile healthcare climate, acne will soon be considered a cosmetic problem rather than a medical condition, which means that your coverage may not take care of those pricey acne meds that help keep breakouts under control.
To find a dermatologist specializing in acne therapies, visit AAD.org
NOTE: ZO Skin Health products were provided for trial, all other products and treatments were researched. Opinions are my own.