Wasted Money on Acne Treatment: Americans Get Sicker

Dermatology clinics are popping up faster than you can pop that pimple. Acne conditions are on the rise. Nobody benefits from the rise except those who sell acne drugs or build dermatology clinics. It’s not good at all. I’m pretty concerned about how we approach acne as we see this increase.

I’m not only concerned for the devastating effect it has on those who experience it but the fact we are treating acne like it’s just a cosmetic inconvenience. It’s more than a cosmetic and it impacts a lot of people. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, about 50 million Americans experience acne in a year. (1) The majority of those affected are women. (2)

Estimates of how much Americans spend on acne treatment annually range from 2-3 billion dollars. What are Americans getting for that, and are they getting to the cause of their condition?

What Do They Know?

You can find a lot about acne on the web. When looking at medical websites and articles, I like to check out definitions. Acne is described as a chronic inflammatory skin condition that results in whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, cysts and nodules. That is all true and the key word is inflammatory. Some say it’s not dangerous- I strongly disagree with that. Inflammation is where most disease comes from.

Acne is reflection of the inside and the primary reflection you see on the skin is inflammation. This can be a reflection that something is off balance or a reflection of a dangerous illness. Don’t think you are safe if it’s off balance. Being out of balance, or homeostasis, for a long time can lead to serious illness.

The more you read on medical websites the more you realize people are being fed some bull. Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in the United States. According to the American Academy of Dermatology more women are getting acne, “Not just teens have acne. A growing number of women have acne in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond. Dermatologists are not sure why this is happening. But dermatologists understand that adult acne can be particularly frustrating.” (3) Wait, what?!?!

So, The American Academy of Dermatology says that lots of women get acne, but they aren’t sure why! I wish they would tell this to women right away. How are they are going to help you fix something when they don’t know the cause? So, basically, they are managing your skin conditions. They aren’t treating your skin conditions. Dermatologists and doctors aren’t getting to the bottom of what is causing the inflammation. They are just shooting in the dark!

What Are We Spending All The Money For?

All those drugs and treatments you buy aren’t keeping you from being sick. They are keeping you from looking sick. That is not the same thing as being healthy, so it can lead to dangerous disease. I have women who come to see me who are taking drugs with dangerous side effects that are making them even more sick, but they don’t want to stop taking the drugs.

One woman who was a patient was using steroids so much it was causing her liver damage, but she didn’t want to stop using the steroids because the minute she did her acne came back horribly. I felt so bad for her but now her skin is looking wonderful and she isn’t on steroids that damage her liver. How? We looked at what was causing the inflammation and got rid of it instead of reducing the inflammation with steroids.

What Doesn’t Cause Acne: Puberty and Bacteria


Bacteria protects your skin. You need good flora on your skin to keep your body in homeostasis, or balance. Skin bacteria can protect you from cancer, psoriasis, eczema, and more. (4)  The bacteria that they say causes acne, Strains of Propionibacterium acnes, actually has been shown to have regenerative and antioxidant properties for the skin. (5) (6) That’s the bacteria they treat you for when you have acne. Do you want to get rid of that good bacteria?

If your acne is cleared by antibiotics it is indicative of underlying problem. That condition will come back in a big way because the bacteria isn’t your problem. Normal flora can become immune detrimental, but you have to be immune compromised first. So, if you were healthy that acne wouldn’t be there.


Acne is known to be common in puberty. Just because its common doesn’t mean its normal. You often see those skin changes but why? Because there’s an underlying hormonal problem. When those hormone levels elevate they can elevate abnormally. If hormone levels are off it will be represented when your skin reacts abnormally.

Stop telling teenagers that acne is normal and that they’ll grow out of it. Then they just grow into adults that think their acne is normal and that taking a damaging drug to hide their sickness is normal.

Acne is NOT Normal and it’s NOT Just Cosmetic

Acne isn’t just an ugly inconvenience. It’s a sign that something is not normal within your body. There can be a wide variety of causes, but you won’t know unless you get tested.  You need to go to a doctor who understands inflammation, hormone changes, and bacterial changes that all can be impacted by a variety of things. You need to go to a doctor that will find out what caused those changes and not just an easy way to hide the symptoms.

Many doctors won’t even test the hormones and if they do they might test 1 or 2 without looking at a full hormonal panel. One often overlooked hormone is Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). When this androgen hormone’s levels are elevated it can lead to acne. DHT is often not tested for and continuous elevated levels lead to prostate cancer. This is just one example if when skin reflects danger on inside! Some hormones related to acne are also related to melanoma, ovarian cancer and breast cancer. (7) Do you really just want to hide the sickness the skin is reflecting by just making cosmetic changes?

Take Care of Your Skin

Your skin is the largest organ of your body and it’s the furthest away from your center, so it gets the least nutrients. Nourish it. Take care of it! Get tested so it doesn’t reflect illness but a glow! If you are glowing on the outside you are glowing on the inside.

But you say, “Doc, the tests take time!” I hear you and understand how frustrating it can be to have your unhealthy insides represented on your face. While you are waiting for the test results you can help your body heal with this homemade skin cream. Add chamomile (we have an awesome liquid herb) and lavender essential oil to it for a really nice skin cream that’s anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, hydrating and it smells good! Also, use a colloidal silver gel like this one to help get the acne down.  (8)

Don’t Treat Acne, Treat You

Are you as mad as I am that we aren’t addressing the problem and just hiding the sickness? You should be. We spend billions of dollars on treatment of acne with harmful drugs and without healing the person. Skin is a reflection of what is going on inside. If you see acne don’t treat it, treat you! Get tested and take care of your health!

Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn

Learn more about inflammation in Dr. Patrick Flynn’s Quick Tip


  1. https://www.aad.org/media/stats/conditions/skin-conditions-by-the-numbers
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5901022_The_prevalence_of_acne_in_adults_20_years_and_older
  3. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne-and-rosacea/acne
  4. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/2/eaao4502
  5. jidonline.org/article/S0022-202X(17)32302-3/fulltext
  6. https://www.nature.com/articles/srep36412#auth-4
  7. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.29216/pdf
  8. https://www.jmatonline.com/index.php/jmat/article/view/6914