The world was flat, once upon a time: pre-high school, pre-puberty, pre-bumps-on-our-faces, pre-padding-in-formerly-planar places. Back then, hormones were to blame for any and all lady lumps. But today, it seems modern-day stressors are causing a spat of physical eruptions that were once the domain of gawky teens. More common in females than in males, adult acne plagues women in their late twenties to thirties. Below, Preview rounds up five ways to cure your acne woes—from the holistic to the topical to the rehabilitative.
1. Pinpoint the culprits behind pimples.
Although recent studies are looking into the relation of acne with food of high glycemic index (or carbs that break down and release glucose more rapidly into the bloodstream), there is no conclusive evidence that links diet to acne. Eating greasy food may just serve to provoke already overactive oil glands, as will stress and sleeplessness. Best to avoid them, but know they’re not the primary source of the problem; good skin is basically a function of genes. In any case, an acne-prone complexion can be managed.
2. Supersize your facial.
Go light years ahead, even. SKIN’s Emax-AC Treatment takes the standard facial several steps further through a combination of light and radio-frequency lasers that target pimple-causing bacteria, prevent sebaceous glands from oil overproduction, and promote skin healing post-breakout.
The process may take several sessions (twice a week for eight weeks)—as with any blemish-battling regimen—but it does target the problem at the source. Derm 360 also has its Micro-Oxyjet Blue Facial, which combines the best of five different treatments—a basic facial, micropeel, high-powered oxyjet delivery of special meds for your skin type, microdermabrasion, and exposure to a special light that reduces inflammation and P. acnes as well as promote healing—into one 45-minute session.
3. Bring out the big guns—try acne medicine.
For severe acne, some doctors recommend popping birth control pills or oral isotretinoins to stabilize hormones and oil production. Some food supplements (F2F) also contain lactoferrin, a milk protein being studied for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In any case, consult your dermatologist for any high-strength product you may want to try. Never self-medicate!
4. Spot treat.
If breakouts do happen, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid should help it heal and fade faster. Here's how to choose between them:
Benzoyl peroxide - Targets P. acnes and peels off sticky dead skin to unplug follicles. It's safe if your skin is not sensitive. To use, apply just enough to cover the pimple (including the reddish area surrounding the papule) at night.
Salicylic acid - Simply peels off stubborn dead skin. This is a great alternative if you have easily-irritated skin that might not like benzoyl peroxide. Dot over your acne before your sleep.
5. Remove all its traces (scars) with a chemical peel.
A chemical peel really does shed off the topmost layer of skin to fade away pigmentation scars, without the physical scraping associated with diamond peels (a move that might pop existing pimples and further scar skin). Apart from its lightening function however, it actually sloughs off the stubborn layer of plugged skin follicles, which traps oil and dirt and causes pesky and recurrent breakouts in the first place. This is probably why any intensive anti-acne derma-prescribed regimen almost always includes a TCA (or trichloroacetic acid peel) or even milder, fruit-based glycolic acid peels—they definitively turn around one’s skin condition.
For best results, set aside ample time as this might require a downtime of one to two weeks; some stinging may also occur. Also, protect your skin with SPF products and always consult your derma. And for the meantime, stay under the sun or experiment with other facial products as skin is extremely sensitive after the procedure.
*This article originally appeared in Preview Magazine October 2011 issue.