Painful, unsightly and an utter annoyance, acne has affected most of us at one time or another. If we’re lucky, it goes away and rears its ugly head once in a blue moon. For those of us who have less luck, acne can be a recurring event in our lives. Thankfully, medical science has advanced to a point where we no longer need to live with this annoying skin condition.
With a range of acne treatments and medication available in Singapore, it can be difficult to decide which is more suitable for you. If you’re on the fence, here’s what you need to know about acne and its various treatments to help you make a more informed choice.
Before we can treat it, we need to understand what acne is and what causes the condition. Acne is a common condition that occurs when hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. These clogs lead to the appearance of whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples.
Most commonly, acne appears in the upper body, namely the face, chest, upper back, and shoulders. While acne is most prevalent among teenagers, this skin condition affects people of all ages. Common factors for acne include hormonal changes, medications, diet, and stress.
Establishing a skincare routine
To hold acne at bay, it is advisable to build a skincare routine that cleans and maintains hygiene on the face.
You should consider starting your skincare routine with a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that doesn’t contain alcohol. A thorough cleanse helps to remove oil, dirt, and sweat that can clog up pores and lead to acne.
After cleansing, a toner can be used to get rid of any residual impurities and balance out the skin’s pH.
Note: While a toner isn’t necessary for everyone, it can be beneficial for those with oily skin or chronic acne. If you do end up using a toner, try to pick one that is alcohol-free to prevent skin dehydration.
Skipping moisturiser can cause the skin to produce more oil, so it’s essential to use a non-comedogenic moisturiser that does not clog your pores.
Sun protection is also important. UV rays exist, whether it’s a cloudy day or not. Sun exposure can lead to skin damage, which makes acne scars more noticeable.
Incorporate gentle exfoliation into your routine once or twice a week with a gentle scrub or chemical exfoliant to remove dead skin cells that can clog pores.
An additional consideration to bear in mind is that consistency is key to preventing acne. Skincare routines should be followed in the morning and evening, every day. if you’re struggling with acne despite following a good skincare routine, consider consulting a skincare professional who can provide personalised advice and prescribe stronger treatments if necessary.
Dietary and lifestyle adjustments
You might not be able to fully control your skin condition, but diet and lifestyle changes can help alleviate the severity of your acne.
Sugary and processed foods increase the chance of acne. They are key culprits when it comes to increasing inflammation and upping your skin’s oil production. Whenever possible, go for whole grains and unprocessed foods. At the same time, consider building a hydration schedule to get sufficient liquids in your body.
Some research also suggests that following a low-glycemic diet, avoiding rapidly-digesting carbohydrates like white bread and sugary drinks, may reduce acne symptoms.
There are also studies that show a link between moderate-to-severe acne and milk consumption. While the evidence is not entirely conclusive, if you notice that your acne worsens after consuming dairy, you might want to consider reducing your intake.
1. Exercise regularly
Exercise increases blood circulation and reduces inflammation, which can help control acne breakouts. Just remember to have a bath after your workout to wash away any sweat and bacteria that can trigger breakouts.
2. Manage your stress
High stress levels can cause changes in hormones, leading to increased oil production in the skin. Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can be beneficial in managing stress levels.
3. Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation can affect hormone levels and increase inflammation, potentially leading to acne. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to maintain optimal skin health.
4. Avoid unnecessary contact with your face
Our fingers carry oils and bacteria, so placing them on the face can lead to more blocked pores and breakouts.
5. Quit smoking
Smoking can worsen acne and make your skin more prone to breakouts. Consider quitting the habit or reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke each day
Facial treatments for acne
Facial treatments for acne can assist with acne by providing a deep cleanse, removing dirt, oil, and makeup that can clog pores. Facial treatments can also enhance the penetration of acne treatments.
Skincare professionals providing facials can offer tailored advice for your specific skin type and concerns, recommending suitable products and lifestyle changes. However, while facials can assist in managing mild to moderate acne, severe cases typically require intensive treatment like prescription medications, with facials taking a supporting role in your skincare routine.
Light and laser therapy
Laser and light treatments allow us to target deeper layers of the skin for better effect, without hurting the more superficial layers of the skin. These therapies primarily work in two ways: by killing acne-causing bacteria and by altering the sebaceous (oil) glands to reduce oil production, which can contribute to acne.
Light therapy, particularly blue and red light therapy, is known for its antibacterial effects. Blue light targets and kills the bacteria responsible for acne inflammation, while red light therapy can reduce inflammation and promote healing.
Laser therapy, on the other hand, heats up the dermis (the second layer of skin) and shrinks oil glands, thereby decreasing oil production. Less sebum means less clogged pores, lowering your chance of getting acne. At the same time, laser therapy promotes collagen formation, which can help heal acne scars.
Microneedling for acne scars
Microneedling involves using a tool equipped with tiny needles to create controlled micro-injuries on the skin’s surface. These micro-injuries stimulate the body’s natural wound healing process, promoting the production of collagen and elastin, two key proteins that contribute to skin’s elasticity and strength.
This process helps to reduce inflammation and accelerate the healing of active breakouts. It also helps in the absorption of topical acne treatments, making them more effective. When it comes to acne scars, the increase in collagen can help fill in atrophic scars (those with a sunken appearance), resulting in a smoother skin texture.
Some therapists will also add skincare products to the microneedling process, taking the chance to let the product penetrate deeper into the skin for better effect.
Prescription medications and topical treatment
Prescription medicine and topical treatments play a crucial role in managing acne, particularly for moderate to severe cases. They work by targeting various factors that contribute to acne.
Topical treatments, which are directly applied to the skin, include:
- Retinoids: To prevent the formation of comedones by promoting skin cell turnover
- Benzoyl: To kill acne-causing bacteria and remove excess oil and dead skin cells
- Topical antibiotics: To kill excess bacteria on the skin and reduce inflammation
Oral medications include:
- Oral antibiotics: To reduce bacteria and fight inflammation
- Hormonal therapy e.g. birth control pills: To regulate hormones that can cause excess oil production. Isotretinoin, a potent retinoid, is used for severe or resistant acne and works by reducing oil production, bacteria, and inflammation.
Book an appointment with SkinLab
Acne-free skin is within reach. All you need is the support of experienced, well-trained professionals who have your best outcome at heart. At SkinLab, Singapore’s largest medical spa chain, our highly trained therapists will consult you about your skin needs before recommending the best treatment.