How to address acne – featuring Dr. Nayani Madarasingha

Part 2 – How to address acne, the second piece in our dedicated series on the ideal skin care routine with Dr. Nayani Madarasinghe.

Q. Can you tell us a little about what acne is and give a brief description of the skin condition?

A. Acne usually affects adolescents and in some cases, it can continue well into adulthood. The condition occurs when oil producing glands in certain areas of the skin such as the face, neck, back and chest become hyperactive and produce excess oil, resulting in blocked pores. It can stem from hereditary factors, hormonal imbalances, as well as external factors such as your diet or the cosmetics you use.

Q. Does this condition need medical intervention or can it be managed using other means?

A. There are different stages, types and intensities of acne, and each of them need to be clearly identified and treated accordingly. Blackheads and whiteheads are a mild form of acne which can be controlled using a cream or ointment, however, anything beyond this has to be dealt with medically. Inflammatory conditions such as reddish/yellowish pimples, sizeable lumps, bumps, nodules and cysts should receive immediate medical attention, as early treatment will ensure minimal scarring.

However, these treatments don’t yield results overnight and it’s important that you attend regular sessions as directed by your physician. If you are a bride-to-be who is planning on getting treatment for acne, make sure to start the process at least 3-6 months before your wedding, as it takes time to start seeing a marked improvement.

Most people make the common mistake of ignoring acne, thinking it will go away sometime, or they seek solutions for it through beauty products, and even resort to ointments and medicines a doctor has prescribed to a friend. This can make their acne worse, since this condition almost always requires medical intervention and the process of treatment has to be tailored to suit the individual.

Q. What sort of treatments are available for this skin condition and which methods are most effective?

A. Topical treatments are enough to keep mild cases of acne at bay, whereas more severe cases require more advanced methods of treatment such as oral antibiotics or hormonal treatment or a drug called retinoid. Chemical peels and laser treatments are adjuvants in the management of acne. The most effective type of treatment is subjective and varies from individual to individual, therefore, it is best to let a medical expert determine what method of treatment suits you best.

Q. Can you tell us a little about what laser treatment is, how it helps and what risks are involved, if any?

A. Laser treatment is mainly useful for minimizing scars that have been the result of prolonged acne. This technology helps to significantly reduce the appearance of scars by stimulating the growth of collagen in the skin. Though laser treatment may not make your scars disappear completely, it can greatly reduce their visibility and depth.

The intensity and frequency of the treatment required depends on the depth of scarring on your skin. Additionally, a good practitioner will consider certain lifestyle aspects to determine whether this method of treatment is suitable and safe for the patient. As for risks involved in this method of treatment, it is extremely important that you choose fully-qualified and experienced medical personnel to do this, and always take extra care to stick to the advice and instructions given to you regarding staying away from the sun, etc after a session.

Acne can be a challenge to deal with, however over time, it can be managed with the help of a dermatologist. Try and stick to one consultant throughout your sessions, who has an understanding of your particular case, and be patient as results take time to show.