A Simple Guide: How to Treat Adult Acne

Handsome man looking at himself in mirror. Squeezing pimple.

Are you already way past your teenage years and still suffering from occasional acne or even frequent acne breakouts?

Well then, this article is perfect for you. Here’s a simple guide on how you can treat acne. But wait! Before you skip to our recommendations, we encourage you to first read about what it is (and what it isn’t) so you know how to go about it.

Don’t worry, in this guide, we will be breaking it all down in simple terms so let’s begin!

What is Acne?

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles are clogged with oil and dead skin cells. This will cause you to have either one of these symptoms depending on the severity:

  • Whiteheads
  • Blackheads
  • Papules (Small, red and tender bumps)
  • Pustules (also known as pimples)
  • Nodules (Large painful lumps beneath skin surface)
  • Cystic Lesions (Painful, pus-filled lumps beneath skin surface)

It is important that you know how to treat it properly as it can cause undue emotional stress and scarring. The earlier you begin treatment, the better!

But what causes Acne?

It is a common misconception to think that dirt or poor hygiene causes acne. However, it is actually caused by the excess oil clogging up our pores. All of us have sebaceous (oil) glands attached to our hair follicles. When those glands secrete excessive amounts of oil, it will clog your pores causing you to have acne. If bacteria is able to penetrate your skin cell, it will further aggravate the acne. So what causes the excessive secretion of oil? Here are some factors:

  1. Hormonal Changes

    Increase in hormones during puberty causes the sebaceous gland to enlarge, making more sebum (oil). Changes in hormones also occur during pregnancy or when taking oral contraceptives.

  2. Hereditary

    If any of your parents had severe acne in the past, there is a chance that you might have it too.

  3. Pressure on skin

    Pressure or friction caused by clothing or any equipment worn (e.g. a helmet strap). Although this has nothing to do with the secretion of oil, it can also aggravate acne.

What DOES NOT cause acne?

Here are some myths you might have heard:

  • Myth #1 Eating fried food causes acne

    You might have been told by your parents or a friend that you should not eat greasy food when you have acne. Fortunately, that is a myth. There is no evidence proving that eating oily or greasy food causes acne.

  • Myth #2 Poor hygiene causes acne

    Contrary to popular belief, this is a myth. Acne is not caused by dirty skin as most of the biological reactions occurs beneath your skin. In fact, washing your face more than twice a day can aggravate your skin.

Why you should treat Acne?

Get faster treatment results

It takes time to treat acne. Don’t expect it to magically disappear after a day of using a pimple cream. You may have heard of such stories from a friend but more often than not, it doesn’t work that way.

  1. Reduce scarring

    Not treating acne could lead to permanent (acne)scars which you definitely do not want, especially if it is on your face.

  2. Prevent mild acne from being severe

    This is important as when mild acne transits to severe acne, you will need stronger medication to treat it. These medication have possible side effects and require close monitoring by your dermatologist.

  3. Avoid emotional distress

    No matter the severity, having acne can cause people to feel insecure about their appearance and withdraw themselves from others. It can take a toll on a person’s psyche and cause one’s self-esteem to suffer.

How to treat Acne?

The goals of taking/using acne medication are to reduce oil production, speed up skin cell turnover, fight bacterial infection and reduce inflammation. The type of medication required depends on your age as well as the type and severity of your acne.

We always recommend speaking to a trusted aesthetic doctor or dermatologist to understand the risks and benefits of the medication and treatments.

Here are 3 ways to treat acne:

  1. Cleansing and skin care

    Mild cleansers: Usage of mild cleansers (e.g. Dove, Neutrogena and Cetaphil) will keep your skin clean and minimise sensitivity and irritation. They are popular and inexpensive too.
    Exfoliating cleansers and masks: Facial masks and scrubs can also be used to remove the outer layer of your skin and open up your pores. Products containing glycolic and alpha hydroxy acids are also gentle skin exfoliants.

  2. Reduce excess oil

    You can never stop your oil glands from producing oil. In fact, the oil produced are good for you as they are natural lubricants to keep your skin moisturised. However, too much will cause the issues as mentioned earlier. Use a gentle toner to wipe away oil and make sure to use oil free products to avoid dry skin and keep your skin moisturised.

  3. Reducing bacteria

    Antibacterial cleansers: They are applied externally and can come in the form of a cream, gel or lotion. The most popular antibacterial cleanser is benzoyl peroxide; an agent that kills surface bacteria. However, take note that benzoyl peroxide can cause red skin irritation to a small number of people. If it affects you, stop using it!

Whatever you do, never pick!

You might be impatient and tempted to scratch your blackheads out or pick your pimple but never ever do so! Not only will it potentially cause permanent scarring, bacteria from your hands can also penetrate further into the deeper layers of yours skin cell causing further inflammation.

And that’s it! That is our simple guide on how to treat acne. There are definitely other treatment methods and medication available but it is always best to speak to a trusted dermatologist to find out which is appropriate for your skin condition.

Ogee Team

As part of the aesthetics team, we are glad to share common insights and facts, as well as the things that we learn daily from Dr Heng!
Ogee Team

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