By Ms Lew Hui Li & Ms Chong Hui Ying

Acne or acne vulgaris is a skin condition that occurs when a pore get clogged with dead skin cells, oils and a type of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). Acne is triggered by many factors:

  • Hormones
  • Stress
  • Poor hygiene
  • Wrong skin care products
  • Sun
  • Unhealthy diet

Non Inflammatory Acne Types (Less severe)

Usually do not cause swelling and are not painful.
Examples: Whiteheads/Close comedones; Blackheads/Open comedones

Inflammatory Acne Types (More severe)

It is more likely to cause complications such as scarring or pitting.
Examples: Papules; Pustules; Nodules; Cysts

Treatment- Mild Acne

Mild acne can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as gels, soaps, pads, creams, and lotions, that are applied to the skin. OTC acne remedies may contain the following active ingredients:

  • Resorcinol: helps break down blackheads and whiteheads
  • Benzoyl peroxide: kills bacteria, accelerates the replacement of skin, and slows the production of sebum
  • Salicylic acid: assists the breakdown of blackheads and whiteheads and helps reduce inflammation and swelling.
  • Retin-A: helps unblock pores through cell turnover
  • Azelaic acid: strengthens cells that line the follicles, stops sebum eruptions, and reduce bacteria growth.

Treatment- Moderate Acne

A skin specialist, or dermatologist, can treat more severe cases.

  • Corticosteroid injection: help prevent scarring, reduce inflammation, and speed up healing.
  • Oral antibiotics: combat the growth of bacteria and reduce inflammation, erythromycin and tetracycline are commonly prescribed for acne
  • Oral contraceptives: help control acne in women by suppressing the overactive gland.
  • Topical antimicrobials:  reduce P. acnes  (example: clindamycin)
  • Retinoic acid derivatives: unclog pores and prevent whitehead and blackhead from developing (example: adapalene, tretinoin)

Prevention and Management Tips

DODON’T
STAY HYDRATED
This doesn’t just mean drink a lot of water. Must use a suitable moisturizer to keep skin hydrated.
NEGLET YOUR HEALTH
Maintaining good mental and physical health always contribute to more healthier skin.
KEEP GOOD HYGIENE
Wash your pillow cases and clean spectacles regularly as they collect sebum and skin residues. Also must wash hands before touching your face.
OVER CLEANSE
Wash your face not more than twice each day by using mild soap. Over-cleanse it or using facial cleanser with strong cleansing effect will strip your face.
TAKE HIGH FIBER FOOD
Green leafy vegetables, nuts, fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids are helpful in acne.
TAKE HIGH GLYCEMIC INDEX DIET
Food rich in sugar, carbohydrate and milk is known to increase acne.
USE SUNSCREEN
Sun, heat and humidity can cause oil glands to be overactive which lead to breakouts. Must choose oil free non-comedogenic physical sunscreens.
PICK, POKE OR POP
This will increase the risk of infections, scarring and make your acne take longer to heal.

CONSULT A DERMATOLOGIST OR PHARMACIST
Expertise of medical professionals can help to uncover source of acne and develop a treatment plan that best suitable for you.
DITCH MEDICATION TOO SOON
It can takes up to 8 weeks before some prescribed medication has an effect on your acne. Therefore it’s important to resist the urge of quit the medication too soon.