Living with acne? Let’s do something about it!

November 9, 2021

We’ve all heard about the dreaded skin condition that causes teenage angst–acne. But what really causes acne and what can be done?

What causes acne?

Acne can occur when your hair follicle becomes clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Acne most commonly appears on the face, forehead, chest, upper back and shoulders. This is because these areas have the most oil glands.

Once a plug has occurred it can cause a blemish. The plug may bulge and create a whitehead. If the plug is open to the air it can darken and cause a blackhead. If the follicle becomes infected with bacteria it becomes inflamed and appears as a pimple. More extreme blockages deep inside the follicle cause lumps under the skin known as cysts. All of these different types of blemishes are commonly known as acne.

Some things that can trigger acne include:

  • Hormonal changes: Hormone changes during puberty or pregnancy can cause oil glands to enlarge and make more oil.
  • Medications: Medications such as corticosteroids, testosterone or lithium can cause acne
  • Diet: Some studies have shown that carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread and chips may worsen acne
  • Stress: Stress might make acne worse

Is it because my skin is dirty?

Acne is not caused by dirty skin. In fact this is a myth.

Another common acne myth is that eating chocolate and greasy food cause acne.

When will I grow out of my acne?

Even though acne is closely associated with the teenage years, people of all ages can get acne.

Fluctuating hormone levels often lead to breakouts, this is why women often experience acne around their periods, during pregnancy or when starting or stopping birth control pills.

Tips for managing acne

  • Wash skin twice–you should also wash your skin after getting sweaty
  • Use your fingertips to apply a gentle, non-abrasive cleaner–scrubbing your skin can make acne worse
  • Rinse with lukewarm water
  • Shampoo regularly–if you have oily skin consider shampooing daily
  • Let your skin heal–avoid picking or popping your acne
  • Keep your hands off your face
  • Stay out of the sun–tanning in the sun or a tanning bed can damage your skin


Will my acne leave scars?

Some people experience scarring or pigmentation changes after acne has healed. This may appear as pitted skin, thick scars, or darker/lighter skin.

What is the best treatment for acne?

Your treatment will depend on a variety of factors including your age, the type of acne you have and the severity of your acne.

There are several types of over-the-counter acne medications that you can try, but if those don’t work it might be best to talk to your doctor. Your doctor will assess your acne and determine if another treatment is necessary.

Different types of acne treatment are available. Your doctor can help decide if one of these might be right for you:

  • Topical medication: These medications are applied to the surface of your skin and usually come in a cream, gel or lotion. This includes retinoids, antibiotics, azelaic acid, salicylic acid, and dapsone.
  • Oral medications: These medications are usually pills taken orally. This includes antibiotics, oral contraceptives, anti-androgen agents, and isotretinoin.
  • Therapies: Other therapies can be helpful and can sometimes be used in combination with other medications. This includes light therapy, chemical peels, drainage/extraction, and steroid injections.

Can someone at Pulse On Call help me?

Of course! Schedule an online doctors appointment and one of our team members will be happy to help. Our licensed Canadian physicians can help diagnose and can also provide prescriptions online.

If additional testing or referral to a dermatologist is required, we can still help! Our doctors can help find a nearby facility to help carry out any required testing or refer you to a local specialist.

The best part? You can do it from the comfort of your own home and it’s free if you have OHIP coverage!

*Please Note:

Please note that all information within this posting is up-to-date at the time of publication.