Text by: Cristy Gutierrez and Jevrice Mariano
Planning to enjoy the sunny season? Make sure your skin is at its best. With summertime upon us, the heightened heat of the sun makes the skin more prone to acne due to perspiration and bacteria. While some people are blessed with good skin and need little effort to maintain it, there are some who have to deal with acne and to continuously find ways to keep their faces smooth.
There are many solutions against acne but one particular method may not be fit for all. Dermatologist and owner of Cosmedics Dermaster Aesthetic Center Dr. Guia Favor- Jorge explains that acne, which affects men and women of all ages, is a skin disorder where the pores get clogged. The most common causes could be derived from genetic factors, fluctuating hormones (especially in teenagers), overstimulation of the oil glands, excess skin, harmful substances, and bacteria. When some or all of these factors are combined, they produce comedones which are commonly called acne. External factors like dust, heat and dirt can trigger these breakouts.
MILD ACNE PROBLEM
If it’s a mild case of acne, there is an easy-to-follow beauty regimen to keep your problem away from the scene and help maintain a healthy, glowing skin: Your face can look clean and feel fresh by washing it two to three times a day using gentle cleansers that are available in the market. A gentle cleanser has less alcohol content. Alcohol can dry skin and strip off the natural oil – this can do more harm than good because it’s also important to maintain the right amount of natural oil on the skin.
In washing your face, treat your skin gently by letting the cleanser glide smoothly on your face until the dirt is removed. You know that this has been achieved when you get a fresh and clean feel. However, overly frequent cleansing doesn’t solve the acne problem either; it can cause stress to the skin leaving it dry, which can give an itchy feeling and a less radiant look.
Noncomedogenic products are also important in skin care so make sure that you read the label when you buy. It prevents clogging of your skin and allows the excess skin to move upward. Comedogenic products can block excess skin and give bacteria more chances to survive.
Do not use over-the-counter products excessively even if they promise to give you best and immediate results. Treating acne with a solution mixed with salicylic acid –which is common in facial care products – is good, but it’s a long and slow process because you have to allow your skin to adapt to the product. It can also make you skin more sensitive to the environment; thus you need to protect the top layer by using sunblock (SPF 30 at least).
Remember that self-pricking or doing the extraction at home is improper and unhygienic. If your skin is not ready for the process, then it will surely be painful. It can also cause infection. If you’re unable to completely remove the comedones, the bacteria inside might penetrate into the deep layer of the skin and deter the surfacing of the excess skin. If the looks and feel of your blackheads, whiteheads and pimples bother you, it’s time to consult a dermatologist. The doctor should be in charge of carefully lifting acne from the skin. This can be done with minimal pain when your skin has been properly prepared for the procedure. The preparation involves application of some medicines to avoid trauma in the skin.
SEVERE ACNE CASE
While there are easy and over-the-counter solutions for mild acne, a consultation with a dermatologist is necessary for severe cases, to determine the main cause and get the right treatment. Oral medication like Vitamin A is prescribed but only after a careful analysis of the patient’s condition. It’s also possible that the acne is only a manifestation of a more serious problem in a patient’s health and the supervision of a doctor (aside from the dermatologist) might help detect the causes behind the long-standing problem. Patients found to have hormonal imbalance are referred to the O.B. Gynecologist to include hormonal replacement as part of the treatment. Antibiotics and other oral medications that might cause irritation to the skin may usually be prescribe, and the derma comes to the rescue by prescribing tretinoin to help bring back the smooth and blemish-free skin.
IPL TREATMENT AND OTHER SOLUTIONS
For those who found over-the-counter solutions and various “peels” not enough to cure acne, Intense Pulsated Light (IPL) treatment could be an effective solution. Done alone or with another treatment, the effectiveness of this method still depends on the person’s overall skin health. For Kester, a twenty-something graduate student, IPL was one of the acne treatments he underwent. Upon noticing that his acne marks and scabs were getting too obvious, he sought the help of a dermatologist. Though he no longer remembers what was behind the acne breakouts, he found himself undergoing a lot of tests and treatments, using a lot of products and changing his lifestyle.
One therapy option is an old but effective procedure called photodynamic therapy. This exposes the face to blue or red light. It targets the oil glands and reduces oil production. Another procedure is called chemical peel. This increases cell turnover or skin exfoliation by using salicylic acid which penetrates the skin in no time. The use of glycolic acid dissolves the glue-like substance that clogs the pores and restores the skin.
If the acne is swollen and painful, the dermatologist may resort to injecting corticosteroid on the affected area where pustules, nodules and cyst are embedded. Pustules, nodules and cyst are all acne but are at the worsened stages of acne development. An acne starts from a small size or a glue-like substance, which will later turn into a dry pimple. The worst part is when it increases in size, stays under the skin, and in the deep layer of the skin the bacteria flourish.
For him, IPL worked alternately with Fraxel and Aurora. The Fraxel treatment stimulates collagen formation to fill up spaces when craters are formed on the skin and uses yellow light to help reduce bacteria. After going through a process like this, the patient is advised to stay away from sunlight. Perhaps because of his skin’s condition, it took a while before Kester started seeing results. He combined it with different kinds of facial treatments like power peel and Spanish peel, and would use a whole set of Obagi twice a day, a routine he found difficult to keep up with at first.
Before taking his special doctor-prescribed medication, he had to go several lab tests weekly to check if his body could take the medicine, as well as more tests for monitoring. According to him, maintaining healthy skin involved not just the medication and the treatments. His doctors also recommended that he change his lifestyle from avoiding smoking, eating healthy food and even changing his sheets and towels every other day.
Even for those who aren’t suffering from severe acne, the advice to be careful of what goes in and out of our bodies is also valuable.
One of the treatments that helped Kester and other people suffering from acne is the Intense Pulsated Light treatment. This treatment has been approved by the FDA in curing acne. Patients who undergo this treatment will be asked to wear protective eyewear as the machine involves light frequency at various levels. The therapy is considered the safest treatment for acne because it can be done painlessly and quickly. The usual treatment lasts for around half an hour.
Patients with severe acne are sometimes required to undergo the process twice a week for four weeks. Results are usually seen halfway through with skin gradually smoothing and acne bumps subsiding. The light the machine emits is effective in killing the harmful bacteria that clogs the pores and causes the outbreak. If the acne is due to hormonal fluctuation, the treatment can help prevent it from the outside. This treatment also helps erase acne scars by promoting collagen production for skin restoration.
IPL may not be cheap but the advanced technology promises results. Though the results might take some time especially for those who are suffering from severe acne, the skin will clear up after a few treatments. However, IPL doesn’t guarantee an absolute cure for acne. Kester did finally get rid of his pimples, but he also maintains this accomplishment with a healthy lifestyle and regular visits to the clinic for facial cleaning and power peel. For some who go through the treatment, further medication is still a must. Having a dermatologist-recommended skincare regimen will maximize and accelerate the results from IPL treatment.
There are many ways to prevent acne. With all the treatments and methods mentioned above, it is still best to consult a medical professional to find the best one for your skin type. Worrying can aggravate your skin problem so the best thing to do is to act on it. Your dermatologist and other doctors can help restore it. While in the process, maintain a healthy lifestyle and be faithful to the regimen. Before you know it, the acne problem will be a thing of the past. Keep your skin healthy.