Acne & Treatment
What is acne?
Acne vulgaris is one of the most commonly known skin complaints, affecting almost 8 out of 10 people at some point in their lives. It usually affects teenagers and can persist into adulthood as well.
Although we are not exactly sure why acne occurs, we believe it is caused by a combination of factors such as:
- Excess sebum
- The plugging of follicles or pores
- The presence of bacteria
There is no evidence to suggest that acne is caused by eating greasy foods or by not washing enough. But studies have shown that people with acne do tend to have increased levels of certain hormones. These can cause the sebaceous glands to grow larger and overproduce oil.
Treatment for acne
Treatment for acne usually takes two forms:
1. Control of active acne
Acne can appear as red spots, blackheads, whiteheads and pustules. Depending on the severity of the condition, Dr Joey uses a combination of creams and oral medications in his treatment regimes.
- Isotretinoin (Roaccutane, Accutane)
One example of a highly effective treatment used is isotretinoin, also known as Roaccutane or Accutane. It is a capsule taken daily for 4 to 6 months and is suitable for patients with severe acne that has not cleared with other treatments such as antibiotics. Isotretinoin is not suitable for every patient and Dr Joey Lai-Cheong will discuss with you in detail at the time of the consultation.
- Hormonal treatment
Many women suffer from acne spots even in adulthood. These spots tend to be along the jawline, chin and cheeks and often flare up around the time of the period. In such patients, there might be a hormonal contribution to the acne. Many of these patients can be treated effectively with treatments that change the behaviour of the hormonal system such as the combined pill, spironolactone tablets and cyproterone acetate tablets.
2. Acne scarring treatment
There are a variety of techniques that can be used to improve the visual impact of acne scars on both the face and body.
On the face, acne scars tend to be atrophic which can give the skin a dented appearance. On the chest and back, acne scars tend to be thickened and are referred to ask keloid or hypertrophic scars.
Facial acne scars can be improved using a technique called microneedling, dermaroller or collagen stimulation treatment. Medical microneedling involves making a series of small micropunctures in the skin. This skin is first numbed using a topical anaesthetic. The dermaroller is then gently rolled on the skin and the micropunctures are able to break down the scars to some extent as well as stimulate the fibroblasts in the skin to secrete collagen, which in turn plumps up the skin. Depending on the severity of the acne scars at least three sessions of medical microneedling are usually needed, at intervals of four to six weeks.
Keloid scars on the body can be flattened with a steroid treatment which involves injecting a steroid solution directly into the scars. At least three treatment sessions are usually needed, at intervals of four to six weeks.