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Understanding Acne

By: Lydia Sarfati
Posted: January 30, 2009, from the February 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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There are three factors that cause acne: sebum, bacteria and enclosure. When you encounter these factors together, it creates an environment for inflamed, irritated and congested skin.

Treatments for acne

Today, acne can be treated without the harshness and discomfort of traditional treatments that leave the skin red and irritated. First, to treat any form of acne, you have to deal with the three main factors—sebum, bacteria and enclosure. This can be done by using a three-tiered approach of professional esthetic treatments, a home care program and a healthy diet that includes nutritional supplements. Acne-prone skin can be addressed by controlling the excess sebum production and maintaining a proper moisture level.

Prevention often is not enough to avoid the mainfestation of acne, however, so when it does occur, there are several methods that can be used to remove acne lesions. Desincrustation is the process of softening the keratinaceous horny plug that allows extractions to proceed easily with minimal trauma to the surrounding tissue.

Manual extractions using vinyl gloves and wrapped index fingers are a very effective measure in removing comedones. If they don’t remove immediately when using slight pressure from side to side, use alternating angles to gently lift the comedone. Another gentle and effective way to remove a comedone is with sterile cotton swabs. If the contents are not expelling, simply go to another section and leave it for the next treatment. Remember that comedones did not occur in one day and, many times, it will take more than one treatment to clear up all of them.

Estheticians also can remove closed and open comedones and milia with the use of lancets. The use of lancets, however, is not approved in all states, so check with your local state board to confirm whether it is permissible. However, cysts and nodules must be treated by dermatologists. As an esthetician you can still administer acne treatments that will help cystic skin, but you won’t be able to remove those lesions. (Editor’s note: The contact information for each state board can be found at