Newswise — More than 85 percent of Americans suffer from acne at some point in their lives. It’s one of the most common reasons that patients visit their dermatologist. Still, according to Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology, sometimes what looks like acne simply isn’t.

“Acne is a treatable condition,” says Dr. Zeichner. “So if you’re getting spots that won’t go away with over-the-counter treatment, it’s time to see your dermatologist. You want to prevent permanent scarring.”

There are many skin conditions that mimic acne, but are different diseases altogether. Recognizing signs that distinguish acne from other conditions can help patients receive appropriate treatment, because traditional acne medicines will not always help all acne-like conditions. Dr. Zeichner outlines three conditions commonly confused as acne.

● Gram Negative Folliculitis Gram Negative Folliculitis is a bacterial infection of the hair follicle, most commonly occurring in patients on long term antibiotics for acne or rosacea.

“Over time, the oral antibiotics sometimes cause a change in the skin’s normal bacteria, resulting in infection,” says Dr. Zeichner. “The bacteria grows in areas that produce oil, such as sweat glands. The most common treatment is medication that reduces oil production.”

● Perioral DermatitisThese itchy red bumps and pus pimples around the mouth are probably a variant of rosacea. It usually occurs in patients who have been using cortisone cream on the face for a long period.

“Perioral dermatitis can improve slowly by discontinuing use of any topical steroids and careful use of other anti-inflammatory medications. Patients will need to find another treatment for whatever issue they were originally using the cortisone cream for,” says Dr. Zeichner.

● Pityrosporum Folliculitis These spots on the chest or the back, which can be itchy, are a rash caused by yeast on the skin. Over 90 percent of patients carry yeast on their skin, but only a small percentage develop this condition. The yeast, called pityrosporum grows in areas of the skin with high oil levels, such as the middle of the chest and back.

“Overgrowth of pityrosporum in the hair follicles can lead to the development of pus pimples,” says Dr. Zeichner. “These often do not respond to traditional acne medicines, as they do not treat the yeast. Although difficult to diagnose, the condition can usually be treated with antifungal agents.”

As the Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital's Department of Dermatology, Dr. Zeichner has a broad interest in medical and cosmetic dermatology as well as clinical research. His specialty is the treatment of acne, as well as the cosmetic rejuvenation of the aging face. Dr. Zeichner treats general skin conditions, including eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and skin cancer. In addition, he is experienced in the use of Botox and dermal fillers, as well as lasers and chemical peels.

Dr. Zeichner earned his degree in medicine from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and received his training in dermatology at The Mount Sinai Hospital.

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of few medical schools embedded in a hospital in the United States. It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 15 institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institute of Health funding and by U.S. News & World Report. The school received the 2009 Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation's oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital among the nation's best hospitals based on reputation, patient safety, and other patient-care factors. Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 530,000 outpatient visits took place.

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