Photo: Jonathan Skow
Q: In this technologically advanced age, why isn't there a way to get rid of acne immediately and permanently?
A: Hear, hear! We've pretty much figured out how to dissolve fat, prevent wrinkles, grow and eliminate hair, shoot people into space (and even bring them back); how hard can it be to get rid of acne?
Harder than you'd think, because acne results from a complicated process involving a plugged pore, oil, bacteria, and inflammation, and it's also influenced by genetics and hormones, says Katie Rodan, MD, associate professor emeritus of dermatology at Stanford University Medical Center and co-founder of the skincare line Rodan + Fields. A shot of cortisone directly into the pimple reduces inflammation in a day or two, and the prescription medicine Accutane can get long-lasting results with cystic or severe acne, but the best way to prevent acne is by using a combination of ingredients that address each step in the breakout process, including salicylic acid to disrupt the plug, benzoyl peroxide for protection from bacteria, and sulfur for its anti-inflammatory effect.
Bottom line: You can treat the superficial causes topically, but because acne involves genetics, the only permanent solution would involve gene therapy, which hasn't yet been developed.
From the December 2008 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine