Monday, 5 March 2012

Is Adolescent Acne Getting You Down?




Congratulations on discovering the ‘joys’ of having unpredictable acne problems..just when you least needed to have a crisis of self-confidence!

Acne problems come in all forms..it’s not just the obvious cystic acne that needs treatment..even years of blackheads can leave permanent scarring.

There are 3 types of acne lesions:
1)   Non-inflammatory, meaning the acne lesions are mostly just a mixture of white- and black-heads (also known as milia and comedones)
2)     Inflammatory, meaning that in addition to the above lesions there are numerous red angry looking, but non-tender, fairly superficial pimples
3)     Cystic- meaning that in addition to points 1 and 2 above, there are also very red, hardened, tender lumps deep in the skin

Acne forms largely as a result of the hormonal effect on the skin at puberty..all those circulating hormones stimulate oil production enormously, and the oil has an effect on the outer dead skin cells much like ‘glue’..it sticks the cells all together and slows down the natural shedding effect of the skin.  This leads to congestion around the openings of the pores, and stagnate oil is a major risk factor for infection setting in.

So, what to do?
Firstly, because acne can vary from person to person, make sure you get prompt advice to minimize the chance of your acne progressing to the most severe forms. 

In the early stage, your local cosmetic physician, chemist or dermal therapist may be able to help out with some simple advice for appropriate skincare containing AHAs or BHAs (these are products containing gentle acids, which work by loosening the build up of dead skin/keratin). Eg ASAP products.  It is important to balance these with some very gentle skincare products, to avoid having your skin become overly irritated or sensitive. Eg Avene products

Here's a before and after of one of my clients with only mild inflammatory acne: 
However, if you have any sign of inflammation at all, you will need to consult a cosmetic physician or general practitioner with an interest in skin to obtain prescription based medication, (eg antibiotic tablet or toner, vitamin A based creams) not available over the counter.  You will almost certainly need to use these as well as an acid based skincare range.  Chemical peeling can also be very useful and rapidly effective for mild-moderate acne.

If your skin doesn’t respond to medical treatment within 3 months (eg a combination of creams and possibly antibiotic tablets or chemical peels), or if your acne problem is in the most severe category, you will need  to be referred to a dermatologist for a medication that is an oral form of vitamin A.
There are numerous brands of iso-tretinoin, such as Roaccutane or Oratane.
Iso-tretinoin works extremely well for severe cystic acne, but can have a lot of side effects (such as birth defects), so must be prescribed and used very carefully.

Diet is important for some people, less so for others.  What’s important overall is to be on the lookout for foods (and drinks eg alcohol) that can precipitate acne breakouts, and avoid these whenever possible.
Stress can be a common precipitant for many people, and learning some healthy techniques for minimizing the impact of stress (eg pre-exam times) can be a useful lifelong measure.

Acne scarring gets many people down, and can be a costly thing to treat with laser.  What’s essential therefore, is to get great advice quickly, and to therefore minimize the chance of needing laser later on.  Some scarring is easily fixed by great skincare advice alone.  
Here's an example of one of my clients with lots of nasty pigmented scars (who hadn't finished treatment when this follow up photo was taken) which have dramatically improved with medical treatment only:


On the other hand, if you leave your cystic acne for too long, even though your skin will look a lot better once the active lesions are controlled, you'll be left with significant scarring that only aggressive lasering can fix.  See another of my client before and afters (this is after medical treatment, not laser!): 



Makeup to school?  That’s ok as a short term thing.. most of us understand what it feels like to have something you’d rather hide on your face! Try to choose a makeup that is oil free, and better still, try one of the mineral powders rather than a liquid foundation..a powder will absorb your excess oil and reduce any shine in the process!  As soon as your acne is under control, ditch the makeup and just use sunscreen every day..much more important for your skin’s long term health!

Controlling oil production isn’t always easy as a teenager.  Be aware that the more you’re tempted to overcleanse your face, making it feel squeaky clean will in fact only stimulate your oil glands to crank up the oil production even more!  Oil is there because your skin needs a certain amount of it to stay healthy, keep out water, bugs and other potentially harmful substances.  If you strip it entirely, your body will try to replace it faster than you realize.  If your pores are blocked, this will lead to cystic lesions forming very quickly.  Use a gentle soap free cleanser once a day, and an acid containing scrub daily also.  You won’t believe the difference it will make!


BIO:

I started my passion for skincare as a somewhat pimply and sun obsessed 16yo, growing up in country Victoria.  A summer spent frivously working on my tan and observing the scary effect it had on my skin, convinced me of the need to accept the skin colour I was born with, a decision that I am proud of making at such a relatively young age!
Fast forward a number of years, and after graduating from Monash University with honours in 1993, I went on to post graduate studies in General Practice (which showed me how little is taught to GPs about general skincare and especially the non-pharmocological treatment of acne) and obtained a Certificate in Dermatology in 2005. I started my ‘official’ training in Cosmetic Medicine between 2000-2002, including with a Cosmetic Dermatologist between 2001-2002, and then started my first business, Victorian Cosmedic Service, in 2002, opening Skin Temple Medi Clinic and Spa in 2010, and won the Australasian Spa Association award for Best MediSpa only 15months later in 2011. Please check out our website for a full list of treatments available: www.skintemple.com.au

Interested in providing cost effective solutions especially in the area of acne management, we pride ourselves on also offering first class skincare education to our clients, which means that our treatment results last far beyond a temporary short term solution to what is often a long term problem.

If you have a general enquiry about our acne services, please email: info@skintemple.com.au
Specific enquiries about your acne problems will require a consultation with Dr Teska.  Please call our medispa on 03 9867 2992 to make an appointment.
For further general information on the range of services available at Skin Temple, please view our website: www.skintemple.com.au 
Our facebook page is located at: www.facebook.com/skintemple Please like our page and remember to share with your friends!