Clean & clear

Reddish pimples, dry skin, ugly scars — acne is what many of us dread. Pooja Prabbhan gets the skin experts talking about the best acne skincare regimes and more

Spot treatment works really well when you have a few acne marks you would like to get rid of.

If there’s one thing we fear more than piling on extra pounds, it has got to be the abrupt surfacing of acne on our skin. In the midst of the daily hustle bustle and drudgery, making time for rigid skincare regimes might seem close to impossible. Clearly, skincare is barely a priority until the painful ‘pops’ appear, which serve as a reminder of having taken our skin for granted. Addressing what exactly causes the ‘Deadly A’, experts give their inputs...

The right care

Dr Sharad Kulkarni, an in-house Kama Ayurveda doctor, avers that routinely cleansing your skin is a must at regular intervals. But make sure not to overdo it because that will dry out the skin. “It is important to keep your skin clean, free of impurities when you have active acne. Follow up with a natural toner to close and tighten your pores. Use a light moisturiser to hydrate, stay away from the heavier ones when you have active acne,” he says, while adding that timely exfoliation is key. “Exfoliate your skin once a week with a mild scrub, which will help clear impurities without irritating the skin. Try to use products with neem in them as it has anti-bacterial, purifying and healing properties.”

When it comes to skincare, most women go wrong with the little things. Speaking of which, Maude Abraham, beauty entrepreneur and founder of Get Gorgeous Beauty Bar, states, “Keep your skin clean with a cleanser/astringent if you have acne-prone skin. Using a day and night cream is super important — not only does it leave you looking good but it also feels great. Use a mild face exfoliant that doesn’t have too much of abrasions in it. It’s gentle on the face yet removes all the extra oil, dirt and any minor breakouts and dead skin. Twice or thrice a month is best.”

Enthusing how treatments may not be a bad idea to deal with stubborn acne marks, Maude adds, “Spot treatment works really well when you have a few acne marks you would like to get rid of. Care must be taken when applying stronger creams that aid in the removal of marks as they can cause dryness and peeling when applied in the wrong area.”

Decoding the ideal usage of cleansing milk, Dr Vishnu Moodal Giri, dermatology specialist, Apollo Clinic, Electronic City, elucidates, “Cleansing milk is better for make-up removal versus toners and astringents. Daily shaving can irritate the skin and should be avoided. A moisturising lotion is better than the conventional after-shave lotion. I discourage liberal use of hair oils or oil massages as this contributes to pomade acne. Frequent shampooing is advised to keep scalp free of seborrhea.”

Cosmetics with fragrances and photosensitisers should be avoided, asserts Dr Vishnu. “For patients with queries on make-up and foundation, I suggest a water-based foundation as it is safe to use. Photoprotection is of utmost importance during acne skincare as many anti-acne products have photosensitisers. However, any sunscreen cannot be used here. Sunscreens in gel formulation and oil-free lotions are suitable for acne patients. Skincare products labelled as ‘noncomedogenic’ or ‘tested for comedogenicity’ is recommended. To this, topical steroid creams available as over-the-counter products are abused by patients all over the country. This should be strongly discouraged as it comes with a plethora of adverse effects.”

Sleep & stress

Last but not least, if you’re compromising on quality snooze, it will show. Vouching for the same, Reena Chhabra, CEO, FSN E-commerce Ventures, says, “Do not pick on acne; use products as per skin type. Avoid touching your face too often as that may cause breakouts. Sleep is also connected to stress, which can cause oily skin and acne. Get a good night’s sleep to banish those blemishes. Stress is a frequent cause of acne and oily skin. Apply tea tree essential oil directly on to acne overnight. It helps in drying it out. A sheet mask with ingredients like charcoal and aloe vera is good to zap the zit. Work on keeping a positive mindset by cutting out stress in your life, and your skin will thank you.”

Addressing the issue behind one of the most prevalent yet overlooked acne types — truncal or rather body acne — Dr Vishnu gives us a lowdown on the dos and don’ts. “Truncal acne are the outbreaks on the back, neck, chest and arms. It is acne on the body. Although truncal acne might be concealed by clothing, it can cause emotional distress and lead to persistent acne scars if left untreated. Because the back, chest, arms and buttocks are covered with sebaceous glands, these areas are as susceptible to acne as the face.”

Citing how the treatment of truncal acne is different from facial acne, he states, “The thicker skin of the body can withstand acne medications that might be irritating to facial skin. The thicker skin also makes truncal acne slower to respond to treatment.” That said, there’s no refuting that the challenges are unique to truncal acne in comparison to other kinds of acne.

“Acne on large areas of the body or hard-to-reach spots, such as the back, may make it difficult to apply topical acne medications. Some topical acne treatments may discolour or bleach clothing. In order to minimise truncal acne, I advise my patients to clean skin gently with a mild soap and pat dry. Avoid picking at acne lesions as this can cause scarring and other skin damage,” he elucidates.

Common mistakes

Strictly advising against self-diagnosis, Dr Sachith Abraham, MD, consultant dermatologist, Dr Sachith’s Skin Clinic and Manipal Hospitals, Bengaluru, adds, “People tend to overtreat acne with strong medicines and put a lot of risk to their liver and kidneys just to treat a cosmetic issue. A common mistake people do is they pick on their acne and cause scarring, which is very difficult to treat. I have seen people looking up YouTube and the Internet for advice and sometimes use garlic juice or toothpaste as advised on the Internet and come to us with burns on the face. People tend to take all sorts of advice from everyone other than a dermatologist. After the damage is done, they seek the help of dermatologists, whereas if they had consulted initially itself, the skin could have been improved a lot in a safer way.” 

Concluding how it’s crucial to give the acne treatment time to work, Dr Vishnu says, “The skin may look worse before it starts to improve and stopping the treatment early can prevent you from seeing good results. Ideal cleansers would be benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, azelaic acid or triclosan-containing soaps or even body washes with comedolytic agents incorporated into them. Excessive oiling or moisturising of skin is to be avoided. Prescription acne medications applied on the skin, such as topical retinoids and antibiotics, oral prescription medications, such as oral antibiotics, isotretinoin and oral contraceptives are to be taken under a dermatologist’s supervision.”

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