Skin Conditions

Skin Condition imageClinical Dermatology consists of the evaluation and treatment of skin conditions and skin disease. West Michigan Dermatology’s high level clinical dermatology competence is of great comfort to patients of all ages seeking diagnosis and treatment of common or rare skin conditions.

Skin is a complex organ and is susceptible to many issues. Some concerns, of course, are more common than others. Skin may develop rashes, color and/or textural changes as well as both harmless and cancerous growths. The key to management of skin conditions, whether common or rare, is proper diagnosis followed by carefully considered patient-specific treatment.

As with all medical issues, optimal skin treatment results from synergy of science and art. One size does not fit all with clinical dermatology.  Differences in dermatology expertise and practice patterns result in significant real world variations in patient outcomes. Our ongoing commitment is to provide the best attainable clinical outcomes for our patients.

Skin Conditions


Acne is a common skin condition that affects mostly teenagers, but is not limited to just that age category. It acne_1 also can affect adults even into their 40’s. Acne can clear up after a few years even if it goes untreated, but this can lead to severe lifelong scars that can affect a person’s self image. There is no reason to not treat acne since there are many different methods that will control and even cure the acne.

Acne consists of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and sometimes deeper boil-like lesions called nodules. Acne usually occurs on the face, but it can also show up on the back, chest, shoulders and neck.  While acne is not a life threatening condition, it can be very upsetting and disfiguring. When it is in its severest stage, it can lead to serious and permanent scarring.  Even less severe cases have been known to scar also.

How Acne forms:

Rising hormone levels during puberty cause the sebaceous (oil) glands of the skin to get larger. This growth occurs in areas where acne is most common (the face, upper back and chest.  It is activated by male-type hormones found in both males  and females.

acneThese sebaceous glands make an oily substance called sebum which reaches the surface by emptying through the opening of the follicle on to the skin surface. The glands are connected to a hair-containing  canal called a follicle. The oil’s material seems to stimulate the lining of the wall of the follicle. The cells shed more rapidly and stick together, plugging the openings of the skin surface. Also, the mixture of oil and cells help bacteria in the follicles grow.

These bacteria produce chemicals that cause the wall of the follicle to break. When the wall is broken, sebum, bacteria and shed skin cells escape.  This is the process by which pimples and large bumps are formed.


Acne is not a disease caused by dirt. Blackheads are not dirt, but are due to dried oil and shed skin cells in the openings of the hair follicles.  You should wash your face with soap and warm water twice a day. It’s important not to wash too often as this may aggravate acne. Shampooing on a regular basis is also recommended.  You should wash hair more often if it tends to be oily. A dermatologist can assist you with the best face and hair washing products and routine.


There are differing opinions regarding diet and the relationship to acne. It is not the primary cause of acne. It cannot be cured by following any type of strict diet, although some people feel their acne tends to get worse with certain foods.


Some people see an improvement in their acne by being out in the sun. However, this is only temporary. acneActually, prolong sun exposure can make the acne worse and too much sun exposure can cause premature aging and skin cancer.


Treatment of acne should begin with an evaluation with a Dermatologist. They will first find out if your skin condition is routine acne. Sometimes, people have an acne like rash due to outside elements, such as makeup or lotion or even oral medications.

Some non-prescription acne lotions and creams can help very mild cases of acne, but used to often will tend to dry out the skin.  If you are looking for over-the-counter acne products, make sure it is “non-comedogenic”. This means that using this product should not cause whiteheads or blackheads. Makeup should be removed every night with soap and water.

There are prescription creams and lotions plus antibiotics taken by mouth that are very successful in treating moderate to severe acne. The antibiotics are used to reduce the bacteria in the follicle. In severe cases, there are different oral medications that are used that will help the acne if other medications have failed. Accutane is one of these medications but the patient has to adhere to strict regulations and must understand the side effects of the drug. Frequent follow ups are mandatory and prevention of pregnancy in females is a must, since the drug can cause severe birth defects.No matter what treatment you decide to use, you must continue proper skin care. There is no instant or permanent cure for acne, but it is controllable.

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