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November 13, 2009


Following up on the topic of oily skin, this week’s Skin Focus shares about the skin condition which plagues many teenagers in their puberty years.

Causes of acne

Acne is a skin condition, commonly faced by people with oily skin, which develops in and around the hair follicles and their oil-producing glands called the sebaceous glands. This occurs more commonly on the face, chest and back. Acne usually starts during the teenage years but can also occur in one’s twenties or thirties.

Male androgenic hormones, present in both men and women, enlarge sebaceous glands in the skin and cause the glands to increase sebum production. The increased amount of sebum leads to the formation of a plug and allows the naturally-occuring Propionibacterium acnes in our skin to proliferate. These bacteria act upon the sebum and break it down to release other chemicals which make the skin around the hair follicle red and inflamed.

Contrary to popular belief, acne is not caused by dirt or an unhealthy diet of fried/oily food.

2 types of acne

There are basically 2 types of acne: retentional/non-inflammatory and inflammatory. Many adolescents suffer from both types of acne at the same time.

  • Retentional acne: Also known as comedones, retentional acne are caused by an accumulation of dead skin cells (hyper-keratinization) around the hair follicle and excess sebum or oil secreted by the sebaceous glands. Blackheads are known as open comedones. The dark colour associated with this appearance is caused by an oxidation of the skin’s melanin pigment when exposed to the air. Whiteheads, or closed comedones, are formed if the hair follicle remains closed.
  • Inflammatory acne: Formation of pimples or inflammatory acne is due to sebum accumulating in the pores and mixing with Propionibacterium acnes, forming red and occasionally painful acne. In serious cases, pus may develop within the pimple. Large, painful swellings called nodules and cyst may develop and result in scaring, even after the condition has subsided. These scars can either be depressed and sunken, or bulging and hard.

Acne treatment

Acne can be treated in two ways:

  • Topical: Patients with mild acne usually respond well to topical treatments. This includes treatments with products containing sulphur, resorcinol and benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics (such as erythromycin and clindamycin gel and lotions) and vitamin-A derived creams or gels (such as adapalene and tretinoin). The side effects of such products may be red or flaky skin but these are usually temporary and will subside once the acne problem is eliminated.
  • Oral: For inflamed acne, topical treatment may not be sufficient. A dermatologist may prescribe antibiotics, such as doxycyline, erythromycin or minocycline. 

Dermatologists’ advice to treat acne problems

  • Use gentle make-up remover and cleanser. Irritating or aggressive products could over-stimulate sebaceous glands. The cleanser should remove excess sebum without drying your skin. A cleanser which is soap-free and is pH-neutral is recommended.
  • Do not squeeze acne. It could aggravate inflammatory reactions and lead to acne marks or scars. Instead, apply a suitable pimple cream to correct the acne and speed up the recovery process.
  • Use non-comedogenic cosmetic products. Far from being a mistake, wearing make-up can be an excellent way to remedy the blemishes that afflict oily skin.
  • Use daily UV protection. UV rays can aggravate acne by increasing the production of sebum and thickening of the epidermis. exposure to UV can also cause pigmentation or even acne scars.

La Roche-Posay’s recommendation

La Roche-Posay offers a complete range of products to treat mild to moderate acne under the EFFACLAR range. We highly recommend:

  • EFFACLAR K Daily Renewal Fluid unclogs pores and is effective in removing blackheads and whiteheads.
  • EFFACLAR DUO Corrective and Anti-imperfection Care offers dual efficacy against inflammatory lesions and comedones with no skin-drying effects (For more information, click here)
  • EFFACLAR A.I. Targeted Breakout Corrector shrinks and heals pimples effectively.
  • ANTHELIOS AC 30 SPF Extreme Fluid offers non-greasy protection of the skin from the damaging UV rays of the sun, suitable for people with oily skin with imperfections.

Acne Set

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