A couple of years ago, while going about my daily business seeing patients, I met a teenage girl who had come to consult on her medical condition. After speaking for a while, we established that the pimples on her face were giving her quite some distress and put her in a low mood. She said that though no one talked about it (yes, we have a culture of silence) she often saw people looking at her face with so many questions, yes, you know that look someone gives you and you just know they have so many questions, so you start explaining then you remember that you are enough and you don’t owe anyone an explanation. We then agreed on some treatment and we said “let’s see how it goes”, and she would come for review during her school holidays. I didn’t think too much about this encounter, but I hoped that her skin would improve with time.
During her half term 6 weeks later, she came back to the clinic and she was bright and cheerful and talking about the medicine that made her skin better and could she have more. She was more confident than when I had first seen her. Seeing this change in her is probably one of the things that put me on the pathway to treating the skin and make life better for people just like her. Since then, the frequently occurring question for me is “how can I make my skin better?……how do I deal with my acne? …..” and that is how 10 months ago, I stepped on a plane to come to the UK. I was coming to Cardiff University to study an MSc in Clinical Dermatology. I was very excited. I didn’t know what to expect but my peers told me that Cardiff was the holy grail of dermatology, they had produced the Dermatology Quality of Life Index after all.
From acne, eczema and dark spots, the problems of the skin are legion. The most common of these is acne, giving women and men sleepless nights and affecting them in ways they can not imagine. I am writing to you about acne today because I would like you to understand a few things about it. Acne most frequently starts at puberty but could also appear for the first time at 25 years or older. Surprisingly, it is usually worse in men than in women. The condition arises due to many factors relating to the genes and or a familial tendency.
Acne arises due to three main things sebum (oil), bacteria, and inflammation. Certain conditions can make it easier for acne to arise such as mineral oils, drugs, emotional stress, leaning the face on the hands but it is not caused by any kind of food. Usually, it may present on the face, neck, upper arms, chest and even buttocks as painful “pimples” which can appear as whiteheads (closed comedones) or blackheads (open comedones). This can then progress to nodules and cysts and even scarring. There are various triggers for acne, and it exists as different forms, but the most important feature is comedones, what we commonly call pimples. Sometimes acne can appear similar to other conditions, for instance, bacterial or fungal infections. This may cause your doctor to give treatment that is different from what you would expect. Flares of acne can occur with some changes in weather and with the start of menses. Hormones can also cause acne; this tends to be persistent and doesn’t respond to the conventional treatments, consult with your doctor. Acne can be mild, moderate or severe and the treatment is dependent on the stage of the condition.
The main aim of treatment is to prevent scarring as these can be difficult to treat. Treatments range from topical treatments such as retinol, which is applied to the skin or systemic treatment that is taken in the form of a tablet such as antibiotics like doxycycline. The type of treatment will be determined by the stage of the condition and is usually prescribed by a board-certified dermatologist. It is important to take the medication as advised as this will give the best result causing a noticeable difference and even clearing up the pimples completely. I cannot stress this enough; treatments will take about 6 weeks to work and you should continue with treatment even after the pimples have cleared up. So, don’t give up hope 3 days after starting your treatment. Even if you don’t have a regimen, always remember to take off your makeup at the end of the day.
The skin is the largest organ in the body and requires care just like you would take care of your heart by exercising, following a healthy diet and avoiding the excesses of life.
If there is one piece of advice that I would say is essential when it comes to your skin, is, always wear sunscreen. It reduces the signs of ageing and prevents the development of dark spots and skin cancer. Your skin will thank you later. You’re welcome.
Having a skincare regime ensures that your skin remains in good health over the course of your life. The regimen may change from time to time depending on what your skin needs at any particular time. It may involve various products such as retinol or hyaluronic acid, consulting with your aesthetician ensures you get the best outcomes.
If you have ever had any skin condition you understand that it is an issue that runs more than skin deep. Research shows there is a definite link between how your skin looks and how you feel about yourself. Often, treating the skin condition improves this situation. People who suffer from skin problems suffer greater stigma and discrimination and unfortunately, conditions such as acne have been related with embarrassment, a poor opinion of yourself, depression, bullying, social exclusion and even suicide. These challenges are real. Many influences are the root of these feelings, and they affect how we go about our business. Fortunately, solutions do exist and treating the skin relieves some of these issues. If at any point a skin condition puts you in a low mood, tell your dermatologist so that apart from treating the skin, you can also receive psychological help.
These are but a few words on a common condition that affects many women and men and how we can deal with some of these issues. If you like what you read please remember to leave a comment below and let’s see how it goes.
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