Skin Conditions – Acne

Acne is a condition which develops in and around the hair follicles and their oil producing glands (called the sebaceous glands). Although we have these glands all over the surface of our body, it is only on the face, chest and back that acne develops. The oil produced by sebaceous glands is called sebum and it begins to appear soon after puberty due to hormonal changes. Acne may be inflammatory or non-inflammatory. The primary non-inflammatory lesion is called “comedone”. Whiteheads are pale, slightly elevated papules categorized as closed comedones. Blackheads are plugs of material that accumulate in the sebaceous glands and are categorized as open comedones. Comedonal acne can become inflamed and lead to the formation of painful papules, pustules and nodules. Acne usually starts during teenage years but may also begin in the twenties or thirties.

There are a number of approaches to treating acne and the scarring it leaves behind. Your dermatologist can prescribe the appropriate skincare to treat your acne, as well as topical and/or oral medication. There are also procedures like Microdermabrasion, Hydrafacial, Acne Booster Peels, Photopneumatic therapy (PPX) and Broad Band Light (BBL) to help treat the condition. Vitamin C iontopheresis is effective in lightening the dark marks left over from inflammatory acne, whereas fractional lasers with or without subcision help improve the appearance of deeper scars. Patients are encouraged not to pick and squeeze their acne as this can lead to more scarring and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

What is Acne?

Acne is a chronic skin condition where your hair follicles, specifically in areas such as your face, chest and back, have a build-up of oil, dead skin cells, bacteria and dirt. While more common in teenagers due to puberty, acne can happen in your later years as well.

What causes Acne?

Our skin pores each have an entrance to a follicle, consisting of an oil (sebaceous) gland. The oil gland produces sebum, or oil, to coat our face and make it soft and lubricated. An excess of sebum, or a build-up of dead skin cells, bacteria and dirt blocks anything from coming out of our pores which causes pimples to form.

Do I have Acne?

Acne can be inflammatory or non-inflammatory, the latter being pimples that are either black or white in color. Known as ‘Comedones’, blackheads and whiteheads are characteristics of non-inflammatory acne and are the most common forms of acne.

Inflammatory acne, red and swollen pimples, are most likely to cause your skin to scar however, despite lower chances of developing on your skin. Some types of inflammatory acne include papules, pustules, nodules and cysts.

While papules are just red, swollen and tender bumps, pustules have pus in them. Nodules are lumps of tissue that are painful to the touch found beneath the skin, whereas cysts share characteristics of pustules and nodules; large lumps found beneath the skin filled with pus.

Common Myths about Acne

Many myths surround the treatment of acne, the most famous being to just let it play out and eventually fading away on its own. Acne does go away after a while, but leave scars or darkened or depressed spots where it once was. Picking or squeezing acne is also not advised as it can lead to more scarring or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation left on the affected area.

Acne can also be a sign of another underlying condition, which is why you should seek treatment for acne, especially if it persists for a long time or hurts your overall confidence and self-esteem.

How do I get rid of them?

Should you decide to have your acne treated by a dermatologist, topical and/or oral medication will be prescribed at first. Where deemed necessary, complementary treatments such as Microdermabrasion, Hydrafacial, Chemical Peels, Vitamin C Iontophoresis, TheraClear and Sciton Forever Young Broadband Light (BBL) may also be recommended in order to better treat acne and acne scarring.

Dr Patricia Yuen offers a wide variety of treatments for acne and will personalize your treatment plan based on your specific needs and preferences. For more information, fill up the enquiry form below or call us at 6235 1200 for a consultation.

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