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What is Acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that is caused when hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells and oil. While acne is most common among teenagers, it can affect people of any age. Acne of all kinds usually appears on the face, but can also pop up on the chest, upper back, shoulders, and other areas. Certain things that may worsen or trigger acne include hormonal changes, medications, stress, and a poor diet.

Common signs of acne include:

  • Open plugged pores called blackheads
  • Closed plugged pores called whiteheads
  • Red, tender bumps called papules
  • Pustules with pus at the tip, called pimples
  • Large, painful lumps underneath the skin called nodules
  • Painful, pus-filled bumps under the skin called cystic lesions

Acne Treatments

Patients who have tried over-the-counter acne products and have not seen results may benefit from prescription-strength acne medications. Our team will work with you to create a treatment regiment that will be right for you depending on your age, the severity and type of your acne, and what will work best for your lifestyle. Some of the most common treatment options include:

Topical Medications

There are a number of topical prescription medications that can be used to treat acne. Some of the most common include retinoids or retinoid-like drugs, azelaic acid and salicylic acid, antibiotics, and Dapsone gel. 

Oral Medications

Oral medications such as antibiotics, combined oral contraceptives and anti-androgen agents for women, as well as Isotretinoin can be effective in treating moderate to severe acne.


For individuals who have tried topical and oral medications with no results, other therapies such as light therapies, chemical peels, steroid injections, or extractions may be helpful.

Candidates for Acne Treatments

Patients who have tried self-care or over-the-counter acne remedies but have not seen desired results can often benefit from acne treatments. Your dermatologist can prescribe stronger prescription medications that are more effective. The best way to determine the right acne treatment for you is to schedule a consultation with one of our dermatologists, during which we can assess, diagnose, and treat your skin for the results you desire.

What can I drink to clear my skin?

Water is always the best answer for healthy living.

What foods cause acne?

This is a very difficult question to answer because every patients situation is different. What we can say is foods that cause inflammation can lead to acne breakouts. So, in theory, the cleaner we eat the better off we are in regards to acne breakouts. But we must stress this is very circumstantial. The best thing for patients to do on this topic is book a consultation with our medical team to discuss their individual conditions and skin health goals.

How should I sleep to avoid acne?

Good sleep is vital for health in general. Lack of sleep and stress can kick start a cortisol surge, which could put you at risk for more acne. So good sleep patterns and routines can have an impact on your overall skin health.nnOther great sleep tips for acne are as follows:n - Change your pillowcase and sheets oftenn - Wash your face before bed with a dermatologist’s recommended cleansern - Use dermatologist-recommended skincare morning and night best suited for your skin

Should I use benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid?

Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl peroxide are common ingredients used by dermatologists to treat acne depending on the patients type of acne and the stage their acne is in. Salicylic Acid is a BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) that helps with exfoliation and slow down oil production and is a common ingredient found in medicated washes that dermatologists will recommend.  The Catalytic Skin Daily Rescue Cleanser and the Vivier Medicated wash are two common cleansers we use at ODC with Salicylic acid. Salicylic acid also has a great anti-aging benefit helping patients with glowing skin. Benzoyl Peroxide is a common ingredient used to help kill acne bacteria on a patients skin. Often, this ingredient is prescribed or offered over the counter by dermatologists as a spot treatment for patients. Another ingredient we like to use with acne patients at ODC is vitamin A, also known as, retinol.  Vitamin A is a great way to speed up a patients cell cycle for quicker more efficient exfoliation, as well as, amazing anti-aging benefits helping stimulate collagen production, helping resurface uneven texture and tone, and creating an overall glow for a patients skin.

The staff at Ottawa Derm Centre were very kind and efficient. Dr Bonaparte exceeded my expectations! -Danielle Y.

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