How to treat acne at home (before you visit an Aesthetic Doctor)
Dr. C.Y. Chua, Singapore Laser Surgery & Aesthetic Doctor
Acne treatment needs to be done with a holistic approach. We need to look at the individual lifestyle habits as well as skin care habits and sometimes, medical treatment is also required. Some common lifestyle factors that we can look into: diet, stress levels as well as hygiene.
#1 – Diet
We want to avoid all food with high sugar, dairy especially skim milk, as well as food high in gluten like bread. These foods are very commonly linked with acne. Try to cut these down and you should see an improvement in your acne
#2 – Stress level
It is also very well-documented that high stress level leads to oily secretions in your sebaceous glands, which means more food for Propionibacterium acne (P. acne), which is a type of bacteria that causes acne. So, modulate your stress level
#3 – Hygiene
Heat and excessive sweating can worsen and cause acne. For those of you who workout frequently, make sure that you avoid any caps and headbands because those have caused a lot of forehead acne in my patients. It will probably be good to also use a clean towel to dab off any sweat throughout your workout if possible, as well as cleanse your face gently after a workout.
On this note, be careful not to over-cleanse your face. A lot of people make this mistake of cleaning the face too much when they feel that it is oily and dirty. Acne is not a dirty condition so you do not have to keep cleaning your face. When you do that, you can actually get a negative outcome because then your skin dries out excessively and your oil glands become more active than ever.
Get gel moisturizer
Basic skincare actually matters a lot for preventing as well as treating some types of acne. One of the first things you can do is to get a gel moisturizer. Make sure that your skin stays moist. Because if it is dry, your oil glands are tricked into producing even more oil.
Choose the right sunscreen
A lot of people do not know this, but sunscreen also worsens acne. There are two types of sunscreen – physical and chemical sunblock. Both can actually worsen acne. So it is important to find a suitable type of sunblock for your skin.
Use noncomedogenic products
Last of all, try to use noncomedogenic products. There are some over-the-counter skincare products like Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)or Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), as well as Benzoyl Peroxide, that can help with acne. You can pick them up at the local pharmacy and it should work very nicely.
If you feel that your acne is not improving with what you have done with OTC skincare, maybe it is time to consult a doctor.
I like medical skincare; I find that it works much faster. Some of my favourite medical skincare includes topical retinoids. Products like Differin as well as Retacnyl work great at preventing acne.
There is more than one type of oral medication. The most well-known type of oral medication that works very well for all forms of acne would be Accutane. A lot of people know it because it is very effective and also because it causes a lot of side effects. You cannot take Accutane if you are planning to get pregnant and you need to have blood tests done before starting Accutane as well as when you are on Accutane.
It is a course of medication that requires months to years to complete. It causes various side effects from dry skin, excessively dry lips, as well as liver, cholesterol problems. A lot of people are afraid of medication because they think of Accutane whenever we talk about medication. Apart from Accutane, there are a lot of other medications that do not need to be taken for such a long period of time and cause much fewer side effects.
Oral Antibiotics, Spironolactone & Birth Control Pills
Oral antibiotics is a very common option. For ladies who are suffering from hormonal acne, Spironolactone actually works very well. If you happen to be on birth control or you want to go on contraception, birth control pills could be a very nice option as well.
It might come as a surprise but lasers are actually not first line treatment for any form of acne. There is an epidemic of chain clinics out there using Q-switched lasers for example, to treat almost every skin condition. If you have pores, they get you to do Q-switched lasers. If you have wrinkles or acne, their solution is Q-switched lasers. Actually, I wrote about it here; why Q-switched lasers are not a solution to a lot of skin conditions and are really only good for blemishes.
We use a few Q-switched lasers in the clinic as well, to treat blemishes but not for acne treatment. There are actually certain types of specialized laser and light treatment that can work for some types of acne. So, discuss with your doctor today on how to customize treatment plan for your skin.
- Watch lifestyle habits – diet, stress & hygiene
- Skincare – light moisturizer, correct sunscreen, OTC acne products
- Still need help? – medical skincare, medication, call for advice!