Acne. Everyone has probably suffered from acne or breakouts at one point of their lives (unless you are blessed with good genes). It’s a common skin condition that many associate with teenage puberty and assume will be resolved in our 20s- but the reality is, adults too can suffer from acne. More than just a skin-deep problem, acne can affect our mood, self-esteem, and even work image.
Acne vulgaris is caused by the inflammation of the base of the hair follicles and the sebaceous glands. It is a chronic, relapsing condition, but fret not! There are some simple ways you can greatly improve your chances of enjoying clear, healthy skin:
Go into your local drugstore and you will be faced by rows and rows of products that boast being the miracle cure to all your skin troubles. But what really works? Certain active ingredients have been shown to effectively improve acne. Look out for these ingredients in your acne products:
- Salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid, which gently exfoliates the skin to unclog pores.
- Benzoyl peroxide, which exfoliates the pores and kills acne-causing bacteria.
- Glycolic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid, which exfoliates the skin, to reduce clogs and improve acne scars. Glycolic acid also stimulates collagen – and is great for anti-aging.
- Retinoids, such as Tretinoin and Adapalene, are very effective against acne. Plus, they are great for anti-aging. However, they can be quite harsh for sensitive skin, and can only be prescribed by a medical doctor.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Start stocking up on dark green or purple vegetables and fruits such as purple cauliflower, eggplant, blueberries, purple cabbage, plums, purple potatoes etc. Purple-coloured vegetables and fruits contain a high level of anti-oxidants and have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. You can incorporate some of these food items in your diet to reduce inflamed, angry acne on your face.
AVOID FOODS HIGH IN SUGAR CONTENT
Consuming foods high in sugar (and other high glycaemic index [GI] foods) will cause your blood sugar levels to spike. The spike in insulin and blood sugar levels causes your hormones to fluctuate, which promotes inflammation in your body. Studies have shown that high GI foods affect insulin levels, and this promotes increased production of available androgens and hence the development of acne.
EAT MORE FATTY FISH
Eating more Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, trout and sardines could help reduce inflammation and improve acne breakouts. Studies have shown that communities which maintain a traditional diet high in Omega-3 have lower rates of acne. Another separate study showed that people who avoid fish and seafood suffer from a higher incidence of acne.
LIGHT BASED THERAPIES
For more serious cases, combination therapies may be required to keep acne at bay. Several light-based therapies – such as lasers, intense pulse light and LED Lights – have shown to be effective against acne.
LED Light Therapy is an integral part of my practice. LED Red and Blue lights, done weekly, reduce acne by killing acne-causing bacteria (Propionibacterium Acnes) and reduce inflammation associated with acne, allowing the skin to heal and restore healthy balance again.
Unfortunately, acne can be a persistent, chronic and frustrating problem to treat, both for doctor and patient. It is important to work together with a doctor you trust to solve the problem together. Often, combination therapies involving lifestyle modification, topical creams, and treatments are necessary to help solve the problem effectively.