Why your skin won’t cooperate!

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I trust that you are keeping well and that you have another chance to read my weekly blog post. Today, we have another guest writer. Our in-house doctor.
 
Have you or someone you know ever suffered skin problems such as pimples, blackhead and whiteheads, especially on the face? 
 
Did you know that people who suffer from skin problems suffer greater stigma and discrimination? Certain conditions such as acne have been related to higher levels of embarrassment, poor body image, depression, bullying, social exclusion and even suicide. 
 
Worry not, my housemate Dr. Pamela Njuguna (Dermatologist in training) has written this blog post for you.
 
Here she goes!
Dr. Pamela Njuguna

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.

L-R Ronald, Patience, Tassio, Dr. Pamela and Sidney

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.

Dr. Pamela Njuguna

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.

#IAmChevening and this too is #MyCheveningJourney

 

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Patience Nyange

I believe in a just society and I am a strong believer in Ralph Waldo Emerson words: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

12 thoughts on “Why your skin won’t cooperate!

  • 20th July 2020 at 12:00 pm
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    I just feel like Dr. Pamela today was communicating to me , I remember 4 years back I had this worst pimples I have ever seen and people could ask me so many weird questions but that didn’t worry me that much, I could respond to them so proudly and so bold, but there was this one question asked by a certain wicked Woman I can say that affected me alot I remember that woman asking me how many pregnacies have I aborted making my face to look like that oooh this question shook me into my core, Imagine innocent me that time a sunday school teacher by that time responding to such kind of a question I felt so bad, she spoiled my day I can say, but anyway I try to assume we are all human beings we are not perfect and we do make mistakes and maybe that question she asked me that time was her mistake she made in life, I forgive her but no matter how I try to forget that incident,I always recall that question

    Reply
    • 20th July 2020 at 10:46 pm
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      Dear Hellen Zighe.

      I am so sorry to hear about your ordeal. Our society can be extremely intrusive. We make everyone’s issue our business. And sometimes, we don’t even pause to think about the impact of our words.

      I believe you that your face has improved and that you do not have to think about this unnecessary intrusion. It is totally uncalled for.

      Thank you for passingby and sharing your experience.
      I wish you all the best.

      Patience.

      Reply
  • 20th July 2020 at 12:59 pm
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    I have struggled with adult Acne too, last year was the worst, my job involves alot of traveling doing trainings and I really struggled with low self esteem when my acne had flared up, I was seeing a darmatologist every two weeks and the treatment regimen prescribed made the acne worse, then after a while my face cleared but it also caused my skin to lighten…. As usual the society that’s quick to judge (she is bleaching)….. I’ll add that changing my diet to ensuring that I eat lots of vegetables and always staying hydrated has really helped.

    Reply
    • 20th July 2020 at 10:58 pm
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      Dear Hellen,

      Thank you for your contribution to this very sensitive topic. Adult acne can really ruin one’s life. It is very costly too buying the medication. I wish you a quick recovery and please do not bother about our society being too intrusive. It is really none of their business.

      Pole sana.

      Patience.

      Reply
  • 20th July 2020 at 8:31 pm
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    Thank you for this article as it rang true for me. Until a few months ago I had no clue I could be so affected by the severe breakout I have had to endure. So much that, I found myself questioning who am I as I struggle to see myself beyond the breakout. I have always been conscious of myself and I put it off to working in the public domain… After all it can be an unkind space where you are “on” all the time. So my investment was ensuring that my SKIN was great. So when I initially got a breakout after settling in Cardiff, I agreed with the Dr that it could be a number of reasons and I kept the faith that with treatment it would be resolved soonest. Fast forward to months later and it not just my skin I mourn but the multiple issues that come with the emotional and physical effects of dealing with adult acne.

    Reply
    • 20th July 2020 at 10:53 pm
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      Dear Tshepo,

      I feel you, I understand these battles too well. One day at a time. We shall overcome. Thank you for sharing your struggles. It always feels safer knowing that you are not alone.
      I wish you a quick recovery.

      Once again, thank you for passing by.

      Patience.

      Reply
  • 21st July 2020 at 6:47 am
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    I’m happy I have found myself on this blog. Thank you Dr for helping the lady, most people don’t understand how acne negatively affects people’s lives. My 15 year old son is struggling with acne and pimples and I can actually see that it’s taking away his confidence. He takes a bath 3 times a day and says hes just trying to be hygienic but deep down I know he’s trying to get rid of the pimples. I visited a pharmacy to buy medicine for the condition but I was told by the Pharmacist that he’s passing through adolescent age hence no need for medication as it will clear on its on. It’s not clearing and it’s eating away my son’s confidence. Please advise on the medication I can buy.

    Reply
    • 21st July 2020 at 10:48 am
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      Dear Tiwonge,
      Thank you for sharing your struggles. I can imagine your pain and his pain.
      I consulted with Dr. Pamela on your issue and her response is, please seek medical attention from a recognized specialist because it is not enough to recommend medication without a proper diagnosis. There will be a follow-up article on what to do when faced with skincare problems including Acne. So look forward to the next blog posts.

      Reply
  • 21st July 2020 at 8:51 am
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    I can resonate so well with your article. Through out my teenage life and into adult hood I have been a victim of acne which has really affected my self esteem and confidence. I wish I could just say “I don’t care”.

    Reply
    • 21st July 2020 at 10:33 am
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      Dear Sabrina,

      Thank you so much for sharing your struggles. Yes, it takes time until you accept yourself and finally get to a level you can say, “I don’t care.” Dr. Pamela will do a follow-up article and hopefully, you will get some help.

      Thank you for passing by.
      Patience.

      Reply
  • 23rd July 2020 at 3:03 am
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    This is such an informative blog, thanks Patience for inviting Dr. Hellen to share her wisdom and give us tips on skin care. People always say sunscreen is for whites and light skinned people, after reading this, I am now well informed that even as a black beauty, my skin needs that sunscreen. I will find one and take care of my skin.

    Reply
    • 27th July 2020 at 12:20 am
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      Dear Cheboi Cheboi,

      Thank you so much for passing by. I am glad you picked something. Yes, even for your black beauty skin, you need sunscreen. It took me a while to figure it out. Now, I don’t leave the house without my sunscreen.

      Please remember to read the next blog post.

      Thank you.

      Patience.

      Reply

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