'Zits do not make us less perfect': A dermatologist's views on handling acne

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  • Monday, 13 Jun 2022

To counter the lack of quality information, Dermato Drey, a dermatologist who has been practicing in France for 10 years, has published a book on acne. Photo: visualhunt.com

Dermato Drey, a dermatologist who has been practicing in France for 10 years, is now a must-see on social networks like YouTube and Instagram.

She shares her advice (in French), and debunks certain preconceived ideas through entertaining videos viewed by tens of thousands of people.

The goal? To counter the lack of quality information on dermatology. She is now pursuing this mission through the book Faire La Paix Avec Sa Peau (Make Peace With Your Skin), which deals with the sensitive subject of acne.

The health professional spoke about how this project came about, while also offering advice on how to limit the consequences of a chronic disease that affects many more people than it seems. – AFP Relaxnews

Why did you choose acne as the subject of your book?

Acne is such a common skin problem. It affects 80% of people! It is the number-one reason people see a dermatologist, and the psychological impact is huge. I felt it was important for me to offer answers to anyone suffering because of their spots.

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You've dubbed this book "The Anti-Blemish Book". Is having skin imperfections really such a bad thing in 2022?

Precisely, the term "imperfection" is never used in my book, because zits do not make us less perfect. People are permanently torn between the demands of supposed "perfection" imposed by society, and the reality of the human body, which lives and evolves every day, with its lumps and bumps, its hairs, its pimples...

Don't social networks, and especially filters, contribute to the cult of flawless skin?

Absolutely, that's the subject of the last chapter of the book. How did we get to a point where filters are so ubiquitous, making comparison with others particularly harmful?

Paradoxically, you can (also) find anything and everything on social networks to get rid of pimples, blackheads and other imperfections, like using toothpaste or lemon on these supposedly "unsightly" blemishes. What do you think of these "hacks" seen by millions of people online?

This is one of the reasons I started the videos on TikTok! There was so much nonsense... dangerous recipes or simply scams to sell anything. Sometimes it starts from a good intention, wanting to be helpful by sharing a so-called miracle recipe, but honestly, if acne could be cured by applying slices of banana or potato to the face, there wouldn't be so many people suffering from it.

Your book is very educational, including illustrated explanations, covering the different skin problems that people can face, and offering tips and tricks. Why did you choose this format?

I wanted the book to meet the general public's need for information on this subject, and to be accessible to young people as well as to parents and professionals involved in acne care. No one wants to read a long, boring book. It is easier to retain information when a book is illustrated and enjoyable to read. It also proves that it is possible to talk about acne in a pleasant and relaxed way, to help patients accept themselves better.

Acne is often associated with adolescence, but is that really the only time when both men and women are affected?

There are more and more adults suffering from acne, especially women. It is estimated that 30 to 40% of adult women are affected. The psychological impact is often considerable for them, even with mild acne, because there is still this myth that acne is only a "teenage problem".

What are the factors that can lead to acne?

It's essentially genetics: we are not all equal when it comes to the risk of developing acne. Our hormonal balance also counts. That's why acne is more frequent during adolescence or just before menstruation in each [menstrual] cycle. There is also a whole chapter in the book on environmental factors – those that we can act on. These range from diet to smoking to sun exposure.

Diet plays an important role in acne. Which foods can promote and/or prevent these blemishes?

It is becoming increasingly clear that simple sugars have a negative impact on acne. These are all the sugary foods like sodas, fruit juices, candies, cookies and desserts. Chocolate is often mentioned as an urban legend, but milk chocolate can contain 50% simple sugar. Concerning dairy products, the relationship is less clear, because the family of dairy products is very vast: from butter to skimmed milk through cheeses, cooked or raw... But, staying with the idea of avoiding simple sugars and ultra-processed foods, it seems worthwhile to avoid skimmed milk powder, which can be found in many products.

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Is there a daily beauty routine that can help prevent acne?

The formation of acne depends little on the cosmetics used on the face, unless they are comedogenic. It is therefore difficult to "prevent" acne with cosmetic products. On the other hand, it is possible to prevent mild acne from getting worse by using the right kind of skincare, i.e., cleansing morning and night and using a treatment cream with hydroxy acids, such as salicylic acid or glycolic acid, for example.

What things should you avoid doing when you have acne?

There is a lot of "bad advice, not to follow" explained in the book. If I were to pick up on just a few, I would recommend not popping your pimples and blackheads to avoid falling into dermatillomania (a behavior characterised by repeatedly picking at your skin), and not exposing yourself to the sun to "dry out" your pimples, at the risk of causing blemishes and worsening your acne in the long run.

What advice would you give to people suffering from these skin problems?

The first thing to do is to get informed with quality information, whether by reading the book or by asking questions to the health and beauty professionals around you. In our consultations, we see many patients who arrive 'desperate' and tell us that they have tried everything, but they have only applied cosmetics, whereas we have more effective medications. Cosmetic products are insufficient for moderate to severe acne. It is important to understand that acne is a chronic disease that will last a few months, years or decades, and that most treatments only have a "suspensive" effect. It is therefore necessary to follow them over the long term.

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beauty , skincare , acne


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