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.