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Say goodbye to acne!
Dr Parul S Kolhe |
March 22, 2005
t is just a pimple.
Technically, it is known as acne vulgaris.
Common people know it as acne or pimples, the most dreaded, rampant skin disease.
There is no other skin disease that causes so much mental trauma and social withdrawal. It hits the most visible and socially important area of the body: your face.
Know your enemy
Extra oil secretion by the pores in your skin blocks the pores. They then form blackheads and whiteheads. This is how acne is formed.
Poor hygiene and resulting infections can aggravate acne because the pimples fill with pus and leave scars.
Oil secretion is hormone-related. Teenagers with fluctuating hormone levels are always more prone to acne.
But nowadays, older people are also being affected due to stressful lifestyles, overuse of cosmetics, oral contraceptives, steroids used for body-building, etc
Prevention: always better than cure
i. Though we cannot control our hormones, we can surely clean the built-up grime and sebum that cause oily and blocked pores.
Use gentle face cleansers daily. It is a must. Green Pears soap (Rs 18.50, available in grocery stores and with chemists), Clean & Clear face wash (Rs 25 for 40 ml, available in grocery stores and with chemists), Cetaphil cleanser (Rs 86, available at all chemists) are all good for oil control.
ii. Tone your skin after cleansing it. Toning restores the normal balance of the skin and thus prevents bacterial colonisation.
Try Garnier's Purifying Face Toner (Rs 125 for 125 ml, available at all cosmetic outlets).
iii. Moisturising is a tricky question for acne-prone skin.
Switch to moisturisers that are water-based and non-comodogenic (any substance that invites the formation of blackheads on the skin).
Emolene (Rs 45, available at all chemists) or Garnier Sun Protecting Moisturiser (Rs 85, available at all cosmetic outlets) are good bets.
Acne dos and don'ts
i. During an acute attack of acne, the skin is irritated and inflamed.
I do not recommend any herbal or home remedies during this period.
Too many overzealous grandmas have ruined a young girl's face with garlic paste and abrasive gramflour scrubs.
ii. Keep the garlic in the frying pan where it belongs. Consult a dermatologist immediately so you can be assessed and treated individually.
iii. All the so-called blood purifying tonics have no effect whatsoever. Avoid them.
iv. Depending on your case, you may be prescribed benzolyl peroxide gels, retinoids, antibiotic gels or various combinations thereof by your dermatologist.
v. You must apply retinoids (a derivative of Vitamin A in the cream) at night, as they are sun-sensitising.
They may also cause some dryness but this is part of the treatment.
If your case is severe, you may need oral antibiotics. Please take the antibiotics regularly as prescribed. Build a good rapport with your doctor to find out which antibiotics suit you best.
Newer acne therapies
i. Nowadays, oral isotretinoin is being used as treatment for the worst cases. This is basically an oral administration of retinoids in the form of tablets.
Under no circumstance should pregnant women or those planning to conceive take these tablets.
ii. Acne scars are a big discussion in themselves.
You can take heart. There are many treatments nowadays to reduce scars.
- Chemical peels: a chemical treatment where the uppermost layer of the skin is removed.
- Microdermabrasion: a physical agent, like silica particles, is used to remove the topmost layer.
- Cryotherapy: this uses liquid nitrogen at a low temperature to remove uppermost layer.
These treatments cost between Rs 500 and Rs 2,500 per sitting.
iii. If you do not get fresh acne, you may try applying glyco-A (Rs 95, available at all chemists) at bedtime.
If it is used over a few months, this will decrease the marks noticeably.
Dr Parul S Kolhe is an M B B S, DDV and DNB in dermatology.