What is acne?
Acne is a skin condition characterised by red pimples on the skin, especially on the face, due to inflamed or infected oil glands. Most people with acne are aged between 12 and 25. Acne usually affects the face but may also affect the back, neck, and chest. The severity can range from mild to severe. Untreated acne usually lasts about 4-5 years before settling. However, it can last for many years in some cases.
What causes acne?
Understanding normal skin
Small sebaceous glands (oil glands) lie just under the skin surface. These glands make the oil (sebum) that keeps the skin supple and smooth. Tiny pores (holes) on the skin allow the sebum to come on to the skin surface. Hairs also grow through these pores. During the teenage years, you make much more sebum than when you were a child. This is due to the hormonal changes which stimulate the oil glands. As a rule, the more sebum that you make, the greasier your skin feels, and the worse acne is likely to be.
Mild-to-moderate acne – blackheads, whiteheads, and small pimples
Some pores become blocked. This is due to the skin at the top of the pores becoming thicker, combined with dead skin cells that are shed into the pores. You can see the plugs that block the top of the pores as tiny spots known as comedones (blackheads and whiteheads).
When oil builds up under blocked pores, pimples will develop. In some cases, acne does not progress beyond this mild-to-moderate stage when you can see a number of small pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads.
Moderate-to-severe acne – larger spots and inflammation
Clogged pores are ideal for a bacterium called “Propionibacterium acnes”, “P. acnes” to multiply and cause inflammation. If inflammation develops, it causes the surrounding skin to become red, and the pimples become larger and filled with pus. In some cases the pustules become even larger and form into small nodules and cysts.
Each inflamed spot will heal eventually. In some cases, the area of skin that was inflamed remains discoloured after the inflammation has gone (this is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) and can also be treated with our laser treatment. Also, a small depressed scar is sometimes left on the skin where there was an inflamed spot. These small scars do not fade fully.
Acne Marks vs Acne Scars
A mild to moderate breakout often leaves a red, pink, or brown discolouration, which is much easier to treat compared to depressed scars. Although people often refer to such marks as acne scars, they are really post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation marks (PIH). PIH happens when the skin produces pigments to protect itself during an inflammation such as a pimple. This pigmentation/mark can be red/pink/brown in colour. We refer to these PIH marks as acne marks.
Many teenagers and even young adults suffer from PIH and acne marks. The good news is this is easily treated! A Q-switched Laser is best for treating brown acne marks as the main function of a Q-Switched Laser is to remove pigmentation.
A red or pink acne mark is best treated with the Accelera Laser. Red or pink acne marks are caused by blood vessels that form close to the skin when the pimple gets inflamed. The Accelera Laser is used to coagulate (meaning to clot up the blood vessels) these blood vessels and therefore reduce inflammation and redness at the same time.
When acne breakouts penetrate the skin deeply, they damage the skin and the tissue beneath it. As the acne clears, the body tries to repair this damage. During the healing process, the body produces collagen that gives the skin support. If the body produces too little or too much collagen, you will see a scar. Depressed scars are more common and give an unsightly texture on the face.
The new Gold Standard in Acne scar treatment: Venus Viva™ is a revolutionary, fully customisable FDA-cleared solution for facial remodelling and resurfacing. Delivering impressive efficacy through combining NanoFractional Radio Frequency™ (RF) and one-of-a-kind SmartScan™ technology, Venus Viva is the first system that allows you to manually control ablation and coagulation for enhanced treatment efficiency.
This latest Israeli Venus Viva NanoFractional RF provides minimal downtime and maximal results. This new technology on skin resurfacing have shown very impressive results in treating depressed acne scars, open pores, and even stretch marks. It is safe, fast, with effective skin regeneration for smoothening those acne scars & minimising those pores.
How to treat acne – the Mizu way
At Mizu, we believe in (1)controlling, (2)eliminating and (3)prevention. This 3 stage process will ensure that current acne is being treated and controlled, and most importantly, to prevent future acne outbreaks.
(1) Control – the first step of controlling acne is the most important step in the treatment process. The main objectives are to reduce oil production, unclog pores, and reduce inflammation/pus.
Oil control can be achieved with a Salicylic acid peel (chemical peel). Because salicylic acid binds to oil, it penetrates deep into the clogged pores where there is a build-up of oil. Basically, this peel works to dry up oil glands, exfoliates and unclogs from inside the pore out, and also has an added anti-inflammatory effect.
A Salicylic acid peel is often given every 2-3 weeks until skin starts to clear up.
In addition to a peel, extraction of stubborn blackheads and whiteheads is also needed to ensure the control of acne. This can be done effectively with the Hydrafacial treatment which utilises Vortex technology to dislodge black/whiteheads and vacuum suction to remove them painlessly, leaving the skin clean and fresh.
Last but not least, topical medication can also be given to help with inflammation and oil control.
(2) Elimination – eliminating acne will involve using our laser machines to target P.acnes bacteria which causes pimples. Two forms of laser treatment can be utilised for the elimination of P-acne; the Accelera Acne laser treatment and the Carbon Laser Peel.
The Accelera Acne laser treatment
- utilises two wavelengths of laser to effectively kill P.acnes bacteria.
- reduces and eliminate facial hair which results in less clogged pores and clearer skin.
- very effectively reduces redness caused by inflammation by coagulating superficial blood vessels.
Carbon Laser Peel
- reduces the inflammation of acne and also exfoliate the skin.
- kills P acne bacteria that cause acne.
- carbon powder penetrates into pores and delivers laser energy to clear acne.
- reduces pore size and removes black and whiteheads.
Find out more regarding our laser treatments for acne from our website, or my previous post where I answer the frequently asked questions about laser treatments.
(3) Prevention – we believe that prevention is better than cure.
A specially formulated Acne Face Wash has been developed by our clinic to effectively control oil production. In addition to the Acne Face Wash, we have also developed the DoubleACT Skin Renewal toner to accelerate the exfoliation of dead skin cells, unclog pores, and reduce the appearance of acne, blackheads and whiteheads and reduce pore size.
The Hydrafacial treatment and Salicylic acid peels can also be used to very effectively to prevent clogged pores and help with oil control, resulting in healthier and clearer skin.