Acne is one of the most common skin conditions seen by doctors.
Acne flares can affect both genders, ranging in age from teenagers to the elderly.
While it is not a serious condition, it can impact a person’s self-esteem, and may even deteriorate to depression in certain cases.
So helping patients understand how best to get the right treatment is important.
Acne is caused by the accumulation of excess oil and sebum, which leads to clogged pores.
Pores that are infected by bacteria lead to inflammation and infection, which progresses to an acne outbreak.
There are two main types of acne: acne vulgaris, which includes blackheads, whiteheads, papules and pustules, and cystic acne, which comes in the form of nodules and cysts.
Cystic acne tends to be more severe, and may cause pain, discomfort and scarring.
While some people may be more fortunate than others to suffer only very mild acne, others may have more severe acne, which is more difficult to treat and has a higher chance of scarring.
As acne is a result of an accumulation of oil and dirt leading to clogged pores and infection, our hot and humid weather only exacerbates this chain of events.
Air pollution due to industrial and vehicle exhaust, compounded with haze, all make clogged pores and infections worse.
Acne can also be caused by various factors such as hormones, stress, genetics, diet, exercise, or even when dirty things constantly touch the face, such as the incredibly dirty smartphone screen that we bring everywhere, including toilets and public areas.
Acne can be a chronic condition for some people and may require a wide variety of treatment methods.
A good acne treatment to begin with is a good skincare regime.
Keeping your face clean can help reduce the build-up of oil and dirt, and hence reduce the chances of an acne flare.
However, over-washing your face can lead to even more acne as it can strip your face of its natural oils, which leads to dry skin.
Your body will then overcompensate by producing even more sebum, leading to an acne flare.
Beyond cleaning the skin, there are a number of common treatments for acne.
Some of these treatments target the causes behind acne formation.
For example, some treatments seek to reduce oil production with chemical peels and microdermabrasion, or chemicals such as isotretinoin.
Other treatments seek to kill the bacteria on the skin, with LED light therapy or oral antibiotics such as doxycycline.
Beyond reducing oil production and bacterial growth, treatments can also help reduce visual signs of the redness of acne with lasers and pulsed light therapy.
There is also a treatment method that works by combining an intense pulsed light with a gentle vacuum suction.
This aims to treat the active inflammation, destroy bacteria and cleanse the pores on your face all at once.
This method is fast and effective, and may be useful for any acne patient who does not wish to take long-term medication or are not responding to their current medications.
While acne is a common problem, many effective treatment methods are available.
There is no need to put up with acne or suffer in silence or depression.
The best thing to do is to speak to your own doctor to find out what are the best treatment options for you.
Dr Michelle Chia is a general practitioner (GP) in Singapore. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
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