Acne Clinic

The focus of the Reston Acne clinic is wide-ranging treatment of acne and acne scars. Our clinic staff includes an acne trained board certified dermatologist, a board certified physician assistant, a licensed clinical aesthetician, and trained and certified medical assistants.

We offer the best acne treatment in Northern Virginia. Whether you need treatment for severe acne or an occasional acne breakout, our team can clear your skin and get you on the path to a beautiful complexion. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

What is Acne?

Acne (acne vulgaris, common acne) is the most frequent skin condition the US. Acne occurs when oil and dead skins block your hair follicles. Acne commonly occurs on the face, neck, back, chest and shoulders. This condition is very common in teenagers and can afflict adults. This disease can be distressingly annoying and persistent. Acne lesions heal slowly and when one begins to resolve, others seem to crop up. The good news is that effective treatments are available. The earlier the treatment is started, the lower your risk of lasting physical and emotional damage

What Causes Acne?

The primary causes of acne are:

  • increased oil production by the skin
  • irregular shedding of dead skin and
  • bacterial overgrowth

When your skin functions normally, oil glands under the skin (sebaceous glands) produce an oily substance (sebum). The sebum moves from the bottom of each hair follicle and spills onto your skin’s surface. As the sebum spills over, it takes sloughed-off skin cells with it.

When your skin is not functioning normally, dried oil (sebum) and irregularly shed skin cells accumulate in the openings of the hair follicles.  This irregular skin process may allow the cells to clog your follicular pores.

The plugged hair follicles attract bacteria. White blood cells migrate to the area to fight the bacteria. As your body fights the bacteria in your skin cells, it releases chemicals, which can inflame your pores. You will notice inflamed pores as pimples or cysts.

An overproduction of hormones, common in puberty, can worsen acne. Women can experience acne flare-ups related to menstrual cycles and see acne breakouts well into their 30s and 40s. This can even happen to women who did not experience acne as teenagers.

What Are the Types of Acne?

  • Open comedones (blackheads)
  • Closed comedones (whiteheads)
  • Papules (red bumps)
  • Pustules (pus bumps)
  • Cysts (deep painful nodules)

What Causes Acne Scars?

The skin’s response to acne’s bacteria can produce inflammatory acne. These lesions often leave scars behind after they resolve.  Some people are more prone to scarring than others. Some acne scars can result in disfiguring skin marks, which do not resolve without treatment. Picking or squeezing active acne can make scarring worse. Extreme scaring can occur because of the inflammation brought to the area from the act of picking at the pimple.

What Are the Best Treatments for Acne?

Treating acne is a relatively slow process. You will not find an overnight remedy. All acne treatments work by preventing new acne breakouts.  While the older acne lesions are healing, the medication is hard at work keeping new acne lesions from forming. Staying on your acne medication is the most important step to getting acne under control. Whatever acne medications you use, it is important that you give them enough time to work. You may need to wait 6 to 8 weeks to see results.

Treatments Include the Following:

Prescription Medications

  • Topical Retinoids: Are among the most effective and commonly prescribed acne medication.  Retinoids are effective in treating the non-inflammatory types of acne (blackheads and whiteheads).  These can help open clogged pores and produce a mild peeling effect.  Drying and redness of the skin can be a frequent side effect. You can prevent the redness by starting to use the medication every third night and gradually increasing to every night.
  • Benzoyl peroxide:  Increases skin turnover, clears pores, and reduces the bacterial count.  Patients typically apply this medication to the affected areas in gel or cream form in concentrations of 2.5%, 5%, or 10%.  You can use this medication to spot treat or apply it to your entire face to treat and prevent future acne.  Patients using this medication might experience initial dryness and sometimes irritation, although the skin develops tolerance after a week or so.
  • Topical antibiotics:  Improve acne by inhibiting the growth of bacteria.  They may also help reduce inflammation and decrease the amount of blocked pores, depending on the form used.  Doctors often prescribe this medication to treat moderate to severe acne.
  • Topical Combination Therapy:  The benefits of these medications include the ability to kill acne-causing bacteria, normalize the shedding of the dead skin cells, keep pores clear, and reduce the number of comedones.

Oral medications

  • Anti-androgen agents:  This drug blocks androgen receptors.  It can help some women with resistant acne. Young women who need anti-androgen agents can generally tolerate it well.  This drug may cause breast tenderness/enlargement, menstrual irregularities, and increased potassium levels in the bloodstream.
  • Oral antibiotics:  Is reserved for more severe cases of acne. This medication works by decreasing the number of bacteria in and around the follicle.
  • Isotretinoin (Accutane): Medical professionals may prescribe this drug to treat the more extensive nodular type of acne or severe inflammatory acne, which has not responded to other treatments and is likely to cause scarring.  All patients taking isotretinoin will experience a peeling and drying of the skin. If prescribed, a medical professional will perform certain blood tests monthly to check for these problems and make sure you are not pregnant.

Holistic Acne Treatments

What you may not know is that there are many acne-focused holistic treatments that can really make a difference when it comes to changing your skin from within.

Change Your Diet

You may have heard the old saying “you are what you eat” and while this isn’t exactly fact, what you eat really can have an effect on your skin.

If you are serious about getting rid of your acne you may consider a change in your diet.

Subtract the Sugar

Foods with a higher glycemic index can really take a toll on your skin as they cause fluctuations in your blood sugar levels.

Removing sugary food and drinks from your diet are a great first step towards improving your acne symptoms.

Ditch the Dairy

Some theorize that dairy and its effect on your insulin and hormones can aid in the development of acne symptoms.

Talk to us about how dairy might be impacting your acne and see if  removing it from your diet could help.

Go Green

An anti-inflammatory rich diet is what we also recommend for acne prone skin and for general health.

Vegetables, fruits, and whole food are a great start towards healthier skin.

Additionally, omega-3 fat sources such as fish is always a welcomed addition to a healthy diet.


Supplements are another great addition to your diet to help your skin return to its acne free destination.

We carry many dietary supplements which can help you fight the symptoms of acne.

At Reston Dermatology we understand the holistic treatment of acne and our staff of professionals is here to help you discover the skin you’ve been hoping for.

Medical Grade Skincare Products

Medical grade skincare can be used alone or in combination with our other acne services and solutions. These products are prescription-strength and more potent than the over the counter products sold in pharmacies. Learn more about our Medical Grad Skincare line, Skintegrity.

Preferred Esthetician Services:

  • Skin consultation:  Most patients begin with a consultation with our highly trained esthetician to discuss their skin type, concerns, and goals.  Whether the problem is acne, acne scarring, sensitive skin, or general skin care, the staff can assist patients in choosing the correct products for your skin type.
  • Dermasweep:  Microdermabrasion is a method of “exfoliating” away the skin’s surface to remove unwanted blackheads, whiteheads, fine scars, and wrinkles. This treatment stimulates the production of rejuvenating collagen by gently removing the upper layer of skin, revealing healthy, younger-looking, revitalized skin.
  • Chemical peels:  Used to treat rough or unevenly pigmented facial skin.  Chemical peels are very effective in improving and smoothing those damaged outer skin layers.  Chemical peeling can restore a more youthful glow to your skin and remove those unwanted fine lines and blemishes.
  • Extractions:  Extractions is the process of clearing a clogged or compacted pore by manual means.  Our staff will often perform this treatment as part of a facial. We will typically perform extractions on patients with comedones (blackheads).  If a patient’s pores are not ready for extraction treatment on the first attempt, we may need to schedule subsequent treatments before we full clear the blackheads.

Acne scar treatment and removal

Most atrophic acne scars respond best to resurfacing laser treatments, such as the Fractional CO2 laser.  Our staff uses fractional CO2 (DEKA laser) to poke microscopic holes in the skin to stimulate the production of new collagen to fill in the acne scars and create smoother skin. Other treatment options for acne scars include injectable fillers such as Juvederm, acne scar removal with punch excision, and chemical peels.

Whatever your acne treatment needs, contact us today for an initial consultation.

Visit our ACNE TREATMENT page for additional information.

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