Tag Archive: acne

A Dermatologist’s Guide to Exfoliation

January 20, 2019

Exfoliation, or the removal of dead skin cells from the outermost layer of the skin, is an important and necessary part of any skincare routine. However, if the word ‘exfoliation’ conjures up the action of scrubbing your face with harsh granules, you may be doing more harm to your skin than good.

So what is the right exfoliation technique for your skin?

Benefits of exfoliation

We shed dead skin cells naturally as new skin cells slowly travel up from the deepest skin layers to the surface. On average, this process takes about 27 days.  As we age, this cell turnover process slows down.

When we exfoliate, we remove the build-up of dead skin cells. Regular exfoliation can reveal younger, brighter skin with an even tone. 

Types of exfoliation

Exfoliation can happen in two forms: physical and chemical.

  • Physical exfoliation: Physical exfoliation relies on the rubbing of tiny granules or particles over the face to remove dead skin cells by physical force.

While this kind of exfoliation can leave you feeling refreshed, the technique can be too harsh for the skin, especially for individuals with acne-prone or sensitive skin. Physical exfoliation may even weaken the skin’s barrier function and leave your skin red or irritated.

For those of you without sensitive or acne-prone skin, physical exfoliation can still be an option. However, make sure to look out for exfoliating agents that are not too large.

  • Chemical exfoliation: Chemical exfoliation relies on fruit enzymes and gentle acids to slough off dead skin. This mechanism is much gentler than physical exfoliation and more suitable for acne-prone and sensitive skin types.

Types of acids

The two most well-known type of exfoliating acids is alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA).

AHAs: Alpha hydroxy acids work by causing skin cells to detach from the outermost layer of skin, making them easier to slough off. Once the dead skin cells are removed, new cells can rise to the surface.

Common AHAs used as chemical exfoliants are lactic, glycolic and mandelic acid.

Glycolic acid: Glycolic acid is the strongest AHA as it has the smallest AHA molecule. As such, it is able to penetrate deeper into the skin and can exfoliate at lower concentrations compared to other acids. However, if you are just beginning to try out chemical exfoliants, a different acid should be considered.

Lactic acid: Apart from exfoliating, lactic acid also moisturizes. Individuals with dry skin can consider lactic acid for this dual function.

Mandelic acid: With a larger molecular structure, mandelic acid is not able to penetrate deeply into the skin. This makes it a gentle AHA and safe to use, especially for people with sensitive skin.

BHAs: Beta hydroxyl acids (BHAs) differ from other AHAs as they are oil-soluble. This property allows them to penetrate deeper into our skin and pores.

BHAs exfoliate by softening the outermost layer of skin cells and dissolving unwanted skin debris. They also have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, making them ideal for individuals with oily and acne-prone skin.

Chemical peels

Chemical peels are often done at a dermatologist’s office where the chemical agent used can be much more concentrated. Glycolic, lactic or salicylic acid is commonly used. A certified dermatologist is best able to identify the type of peel for your skin.

With regular use, these treatments exfoliate the surface skin and improve fine lines, wrinkles, skin discolouration and texture.

Chemical exfoliation at home

Most patients prefer to do chemical exfoliation on their own. However, this can cause skin sensitivity and redness for certain individuals over time without proper medical supervision.

As a result, Dr Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, recommends using active ingredients such as stabilised vitamin C (sodium ascorbyl phosphate), hyaluronic acid, phyto plant extracts or LARECEA™ extract. These ingredients are proven to deliver health to your skin without the sensitivity that AHA or BHA might cause when used without medical supervision.

Over-exfoliation

The benefits of chemical exfoliation may make it tempting to use AHAs and BHAs often. However, too much exfoliation can disrupt your skin barrier and cause the skin to become red and inflamed.

If you are a beginner to AHA and BHA, start slow. If you do not have sensitive skin, exfoliate every other day. Those with sensitive skin should stick to exfoliating once a week. Discuss with your dermatologist how often you should get chemical peels.

© 2019 TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre. All rights reserved.

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Meet with Dr Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.

To book an appointment with Dr Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email appt@twlskin.com. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.

 

 

How does your skin react to alcohol?

January 19, 2019

 

What happens to your skin when you drink too much?

To maintain the health of your skin, you may want to think twice before you reach for one too many drinks. Alcohol can be pretty harsh on the skin.

Here’s why.

Premature ageing

When broken down, alcohol produces molecules called aldehydes. Such molecules cause damage to the body’s cells by destroying their ability to function. When cells are damaged or die, our body produces new cells to replace them. However, a single exposure to alcohol can reduce the body’s ability to multiply cells.

Another effect of alcohol is the widening of small blood vessels in the skin. This allows more blood to flow closer to the skin’s surface, which produces the distinctive flush and feeling of warmth often associated with alcohol consumption. Over time, this can cause an unhealthy appearance including dullness, enlarged pores, sagging, discoloration and a lack of skin resilience. Such effects can last for days.

Excessive alcohol consumption can further limit the liver’s ability to remove toxins, which can also make you look older.

Dehydration

Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to regulate water levels. Your brain produces a hormone called anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) that acts on our kidneys to control the amount of water secreted in your urine. When your body is dehydrated, your brain sends a signal to pump out ADH. ADH stops you from urinating as much, allowing you to retain your water levels.

Alcohol inhibits ADH levels. So even when you drink a lot of water alongside your alcoholic drinks, your body only hangs on to about a third of it while the rest goes out in your urine. In other words, alcohol increases urine volume and leaves your body dehydrated.

This dehydrating effect worsens skin elasticity, thickness and density. It also makes wrinkles and fine lines more noticeable. 

Itchy skin

Most itchy skin diseases are exacerbated by alcohol consumption. Alcohol causes eczema to be twice as common, likely due to its suppressive effects on the immune system.

Alcohol also makes psoriasis harder to treat. Psoriasis refers to the condition of red, itchy skin. While alcohol itself does not cause psoriasis, it increases the body’s susceptibility to infection and exacerbates the condition. Heavy drinkers are also more resistant to therapy.

Flushing and Rosacea

Flushing is a common after-effect of drinking and tends to go away the next day. It is more prevalent in individuals who do not have an enzyme that breaks down aldehyde. (Alcohol is broken down via two general steps, first into aldehydes and then to acetate.) An accumulation of aldehydes causes flushing and rapid heart rates.

An impaired alcohol metabolism can also worsen rosacea, a common skin disease with a tendency to blush or flush more easily than others. It can further cause an increased incidence of telangiectasia or the appearance of spider veins at the surface of the skin. 

Inflammation

When alcohol is broken down in the body, reactive oxygen species (ROS) is released as a by-product. ROS are important signalling molecules in the body.

However, excess ROS production can be harmful to the skin as it alters the body’s immune response, triggers inflammation and causes the body to attack itself. This can compromise the skin’s wound healing processes.

Consequently, alcohol can cause skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or, in some cases, acne to take much longer to heal than before.

Resveratrol in red wine

Resveratrol is an antioxidant often found in red wine. (Antioxidants work to fight against the oxidative stress that your skin cells encounter.) Resveratrol also has therapeutic benefits against various skin disorders and protects the skin against harmful UV rays. Given that UV radiation is a major cause of ageing, resveratrol is popular for its anti-ageing abilities.

However, there are other ways to get resveratrol that do not include the harmful effects of alcohol.

For a dermatologist-formulated anti-ageing serum, go for Elixir-V™ Total Recovery Serum. It contains a potent concoction of resveratrol, hyaluronic acid and oligopeptides that work together to give you the perfect V-face look.

Seek for help

If your skin condition worsens, schedule a visit with a dermatologist as soon as you can. The dermatologist can determine the best course of action and suitable treatment that would be effective for your condition and your lifestyle.

© 2019 TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre. All rights reserved.

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Meet with Dr Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.

To book an appointment with Dr Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email appt@twlskin.com. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.

 

 

 

 

 

Fighting back and chest acne

December 10, 2018

When it comes to acne, most of us tend to think of facial acne – the most visible form of acne vulgaris. Back and chest acne, or truncal acne, is often overlooked even though more than half of people with facial acne can also have truncal acne. Further, acne on any part of the body can impact one’s self-esteem, body image or self-confidence.

What causes truncal acne?

Truncal acne develops in a similar way to facial acne. Major causes of acne include excess sebum secretion, abnormal desquamation (shedding) of skin cells, the presence of the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes (P.acnes), and inflammation. These elements can be found as much on the back and chest as on the face.

Genetics is also a crucial component. Your genetic disposition can influence the formation of comedones or the way your body responds to the P. acnes on your skin.

Acne forms when abnormal desquamation of epithelial cells causes sebum and keratin to accumulate and block hair follicles. This creates comedones – either open blackheads or closed whiteheads.

An increased production of sebum also creates an ideal environment for P.acnes to thrive, especially during puberty when oil glands are excited by hormones called androgens. The activated oil glands produce inflammatory factors, such as cytokines, that increase the skin’s inflammatory response.

Your back, shoulders and chest are also more prone to acne mechanica, meaning acne caused by the pressure, occlusion, friction or heat of clothing or physical activity. Sports equipment, such as shoulder pads and tight straps, can further exacerbate acne. Sweaty clothing traps sweat, oils and substances that support the growth of  P. acnes. As a result, be sure to change out of sweaty clothing after a workout or seek shade when the sun is at its strongest.

How can I treat truncal acne?

First-line therapy for truncal acne should always be a combination of a topical and antimicrobial treatment to reduce the risk of bacteria resistance. Treatment lengths should also be kept as short as possible – to a three to four month course – and cautiously managed by an accredited dermatologist.

Topical treatments

  • Benzoyl peroxide: Decreases inflammation and abnormal desquamation. It also contains anti-microbial properties that kill bacteria, but can bleach clothing and bedding. As such, it may be less desirable for treatment of truncal acne
  • Retinoids: Reduce comedonal formation, expel mature comedones and exert anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Antibiotics e.g. erythromycin, clindamycin: Reduce the proliferation of P.acnes but are not recommended to be used as the only form of treatment due to the risk that bacteria will grow resistant to the effects of medication.
  • Azelaic acid: A newer form of treatment that has three pharmacological effects: anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and stabilizing on abnormal desquamation. Above all, azelaic acid also fades post-acne marks by inhibiting the release of tyrosinanse, an enzyme that controls the production of melanin.

While skin on the body can withstand acne medication that may be too irritating on facial skin, they can be harder to apply on the back. Also, skin on the body is thicker than the face and may respond more slowly to treatment.

Oral antibiotics

Antibiotics work to limit the proliferation of P.acnes, which makes them useful in treating moderate to severe acne.

Hormonal therapies

Oral contraceptives work to reduce androgen levels, which in turn decreases sebum production. Oral contraceptives are effective against inflammatory acne in females. Patients who do not mind being on contraceptives can consider this treatment.

Oral isotretinoin

Isotretinoin is a form of oral retinoid that is effective against severe. It helps to decrease sebum production, bacterial proliferation, inflammation and abnormal rate of skin cells shedding.

However, isotretinoin can have severe side effects.  It can disturb the development of a fetus and cause birth defects if the mother is taking it at the time of conception or during pregnancy.  Other potential side effects include mood changes, liver damage, or fluctuations in lipid levels. As a result, this medication should be cautiously managed by a dermatologist.

Cleansing

Proper cleansing should also follow alongside other treatment therapies. Dr. TWL’s Miel Honey™ Cleanser is a dermatologist-formulated cleanser ideal for acne-prone skin and uses medical grade honey as an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory agent. A gentle cleanser that lathers up from botanical emulsifiers, the foam produced is generous and refreshing on the skin.

Cosmeceuticals

Truncal acne patients can also consider cosmeceuticals as part of their treatment. Cosmeceuticals are cosmetic products that contain active ingredients that deliver medical benefits to the skin. Vitamin C, in particular, works as an antioxidant that helps clear the skin of inflammation. Another botanical to consider is Arnica Montana flower extract, which is especially beneficial for acne-prone skin as it stabilises inflammation and reduces skin flaking.

© 2018 TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre. All rights reserved.

—–

Meet with Dr Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.

To book an appointment with Dr Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email appt@twlskin.com. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.

 

 

 

Does Makeup Cause Acne?

November 27, 2018

 

Does makeup cause acne? The straightforward answer is no. However, certain ingredients in cosmetics can aggravate acne. We explain how and which products to avoid below.

How do cosmetics aggravate acne?

The two major causes of acne are genetics and a bacterium called Proprionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). Neither of these originate from makeup.

However, several substances in your makeup can be comedogenic or acnegenic, both of which can cause skin irritations that aggravate the acne condition.

Comedogenic products

Comedogenic substances cause comedones.

Comedones are small bumps that arise when pores get blocked by excessive sebum and dead skin debris. Closed comedones, or whiteheads, have a cover of skin cells that prevent oxidation. Open comedones, or blackheads, are exposed to the environment which causes the sebum to oxidate and turn black.

Comedogenic products trigger a disorder in the cells lining the pores.  The normal process of cells shedding is interrupted by an excess of keratin. This causes dead skin cells and sebum to stick together and cause blockage.

Acnegenic products

Acnegenic products cause inflammation of hair follicles which leads to the formation of papules or pustules. Papules are small reddish raised bumps on the skin. They are often painful and hard when you touch them. Pustules are swollen and resemble blisters with a yellowish pus.

How to choose the right cosmetic product?

When choosing your cosmetic products, look for non-acnegenic and non-comedogenic labels. The former is less common than the latter.

The absence of a label does not mean a product is acnegenic or comedogenic though so look next to the ingredients.

Potentially comedogenic substances include cocoa butter, corn oil, lanolin, oleic acid, olive oil, paraffin, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearic acid and stearyl alcohol. Potentially acnegenic substances include fragrances, harsh chemicals and alcohols.

However, this list should also not be blindly followed. In any cosmetic formulation, it is likely that the substance that may be comedogenic or acnegenic in raw form is present in much lesser concentrations. Certain individuals are also more prone to comedone formation than others so some users can use a moisturizer formulated with cocoa butter without difficulty while others cannot.

As a result, the only way to know for certain if a cosmetic product is going to irritate your skin is to try it and observe what happens. If a breakout is due to cosmetics, it typically occurs 48 hours after application. Such breakouts usually disappear quickly after application is discontinued.  In comparison, the development of acne takes about 2 to 4 weeks.

If breakouts continue even after discontinuing a product’s use, switch to dermatologist-recommended products or visit a dermatologist.

Are your makeup brushes clean?

If you find you’re having consistent reactions to cosmetics, the culprit may be your dirty makeup brushes. These applicators can provide the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive and cause an infection called gram-negative folliculitis. Gram-negative folliculitis causes pustules.

To avoid this, clean your makeup applicators weekly to remove bacteria, dead skin cells and sebum. Also, do not share your makeup brushes.

Keep your face clean and clear

To minimize breakouts and skin irritations, put greater care into removing makeup thoroughly. Use a gentle cleanser, preferably one that is formulated for acne-prone skin like Miel Honey™ CleanserA skincare regime for acne-prone skin should also include antioxidants, such as VITA C GOLD™ Serum Antioxidants help to reduce oxidation of sebum, thus reducing the inflammation that can lead to acne.

© 2018 TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre. All rights reserved.
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Meet with Dr Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.
To book an appointment with Dr Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email appt@twlskin.com. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.

 

Is It Bad to Pick on Your Acne?

November 4, 2018

Anyone who has survived adolescence knows the feeling of seeing an ugly head of pus on the face and having the urge to press it out. Despite many commonly known warnings about the evils that befall those that pop pimples (the pimples will spread, grow infected and/or scar), few resist.

However, there are cases in which this behavior can become extreme. Such behavior becomes a condition called excoriation disorder (also known as dermatillomania, acne excoriée, neurotic excoriation, or psychogenic excoriation) when it is repetitive and intentionally self-harming.

Characteristics of excoriation disorder

Skin-picking is quite common and may occur at any age. It typically begins in adolescence as it coincides with the onset of puberty. Patients suffering from acne or eczema are more likely to pick their skin.

What distinguishes excoriation disorder from normal skin picking is that this behavior is self-injurious and involves repetitive scratching or picking at healthy skin, minor skin irregularities or general skin-picking automatically without realizing it. The behavior also results in tissue damage.

Sufferers of this disorder may skin-pick any area of the body and usually do so in multiple places. The most common areas are the face, followed by the hands, fingers, arms or legs. Acne, papules, scabs, scars, calluses and insect bites are also sometimes excoriation sites.

While potential skin-picking triggers may vary across individuals, common ones include emotions such as stress, anger, and anxiety. Skin-picking is often common during sedentary activities as well such as watching television and reading, boredom and feeling tired.

Excessive picking can result in tissue damage and lead to medical complications such as localized infections. Such behavior often begins with the onset of a dermatological condition like acne, and often worsens conditions by preventing wounds from healing properly.

Psychological aspect of the disorder

The behavior associated with skin picking shares similar symptoms with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and impulse control disorder. Features that resemble OCD include obsessions about an irregularity on the skin or preoccupation with having smooth skin and excoriating in response to the thoughts. Individuals who pick their skin may also experience mild to moderate levels of depression and/or anxiety.

Through the experience of picking, sufferers may feel tension prior to excoriating and relief or pleasure during or afterwards. However, any positive feelings are unfortunately transient and give way to the urge to pick again.

Treatment

Individuals who skin pick rarely seek dermatological or psychiatric treatment for their condition; they are either embarrassed or believe that the condition is untreatable.

Instead, some patients may avoid social activities as it may expose their scars or injuries. Others resort to cosmetics, clothing and/or bandages to camouflage their scars.

However, there are other ways out. For excoriation disorder, both pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments can help.

Behavioural interventions

Cognitive-behavioral therapy and habit reversal therapy can be powerful interventions for excoriation disorder sufferers. Cognitive-behavioral therapy involves psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring and an emphasis on relapse prevention.

Habit reversal therapy involves self-monitoring and substituting skin-picking with an incompatible action. For examples, patients can be advised to clench their fists whenever they feel the urge to skin pick. Another example is to introduce a new behavioural sequence that ends with a harmless action: the hand approaches the face to pick the skin but then consciously deviates to a different location such as the ear.

Pharmacotherapy treatments

Research on the use of medications for excoriation disorder is currently limited. Individuals who suffer from skin picking should receive a thorough physical examination before going on any medication.

Having said that, many individuals can benefit from drug interventions. Pharmacological agents used to treat excoriation disorder include:

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

It is widely believed that imbalanced or low serotonin levels contribute to depression, anxiety disorders and some personality disorders. Better regulating serotonin is believed to help improve the brain function and thereby reduce the urge to skin-pick. Common drugs that increase levels of serotonin to the brain include clomipramine, fluoxetine and sertraline.

Opioid antagonists

Like serotonin, people with low dopamine may exhibit more depression, anxiety, poor outlook, addiction and self-harming behavior. Opioid antagonists (naltrexone, nalmefene) increase the dopamine levels in our body and help diminish the urge to pick.

Glutamatergic agents

Examples include N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and riluzole. Skin picking, along with other compulsive and habitual disorders, is said to arise from defective signalling of a substance called glutamate. With glutamatergic agents such as NAC, it helps to increase levels of glutamate in the brain, ensuring signalling functions normally again, reducing the urge to pick on skin.

When to visit a dermatologist

When picking on acne becomes serious, such as causing frequent infections or severe scarring, patients should seek help and visit a dermatologist. While skin picking is rather common, patients should take note if the intensity and frequency of such behaviour increases over time. Skin picking can inflict severe tissue damage, and may require a long period of time for scars to heal. A dermatologist will be able to provide professional treatment and advice before the condition worsens.

© 2018 TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre. All rights reserved.
—–
Meet with Dr. Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.
To book an appointment with Dr. Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email appt@twlskin.com. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.

 

 

Stressing Out Can Aggravate Your Acne – Here’s How

October 22, 2018

Any acne google search will reveal links between acne breakouts and a variety of factors including cosmetics, spicy food, sunlight, chocolate, and even sweat. However, one less tangible factor that is often included but rarely explained is stress.

Stress is truly a significant factor in acne. While it is unlikely to cause acne alone, it can trigger flares and aggravate the condition by causing excessive oil production and delaying the wound recovery time of acne.

Stress induces excessive oil production

During periods of high stress, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is activated and produces hormones. The HPA axis is the interaction between our body’s central nervous system (brain) and the endocrine system (hormonal-related).

The HPA releases androgens and corticotropin-releasing hormones (CRHs) in response to stress. CRHs bind to the receptors on our oil glands and accelerate lipid synthesis. CRHs also activates the testosterone in our body, which further enhances lipid production.

When the body experiences stress, neuropeptides are also released. Neuropeptides are small proteins found in the brain that are engaged in the functions of signalling and communication. Neuropeptides can also influence hormones. In particular, a neuropeptide called Substance P can stimulate the growth in the number and size of oil glands, which contributes to acne.

Stress delays wound recovery

Individuals with high levels of perceived psychological stress have shown significantly delayed recovery rates of the skin barrier. In other words, stress slows down the body’s ability to heal wounds, which can be a factor in slowing the repair of acne injuries.

Stress also triggers the increased level of the hormones glucocorticoids and catecholamines, which can adversely influence the healing process.

Glucocorticoids reduce the number of cytokines at the site of injury. Cytokines are essential in the early stage of wound healing as they protect against infection and prepare the injured site for repair by sending signals for phagocytes. Phagocytes kill and digest unwanted microorganisms. The later stages of wound repair are thus delayed with lower level of cytokines, meaning more time is required for acne to heal.

Further, catecholamines regulate a range of immune functions such as cell proliferation, production of cytokines (essential in wound-healing process) and antibodies. Elevated catecholamine levels during times of stress can inhibit the production of cytokines or suppress the body’s natural immune response to attacks.

Stress promotes habits that aggravate acne

The stresses of daily life may encourage individuals to pick at or scratch their skin. Such habits cause further inflammation, scarring and hyperpigmentation.

Stressed individuals are also more likely to have unhealthy habits, such as poor sleep patterns, imbalanced nutrition, and excessive consumption of alcohol. Stressed-out individuals can, at times, overeat in the face of chronic stress or increase their intake of calorie-rich food to calm the nerves. Comfort foods such as ice cream or cake can help to tone down the body’s stress responses but trigger acne or inflammation.

Finally, stress can cause people to neglect good self-care, including maintaining a usual skincare routine.

How to lessen the impact stress has on your skin?

Physical exercise can alleviate stress and regulate the production of stress-related hormones. Patients suffering from acne may be tempted to steer from exercise due to the discomfort from sweat, but exercising can provide important benefits to your skin. Just shower immediately after exercising and use a gentle moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated.

Experiment with other stress-reduction techniques as well such as meditation, yoga or reading a good book. If a stressful event is around the corner, be sure to get sufficient sleep and consume proper meals to eliminate other potential triggers that can aggravate your acne.

In addition to managing your stress-levels, consider visiting a dermatologist. Acne is treatable with the help of an accredited dermatologist, so it is worthwhile to seek professional advice.

© 2018 TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre. All rights reserved.

—–
Meet with Dr. Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.
To book an appointment with Dr. Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email appt@twlskin.com. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.

Understanding Enlarged Pores & How to Treat Them

August 24, 2018

Enlarged facial pores are a cosmetic concern that plague individuals with oily skin types. Even though this condition besets a majority of individuals, especially those who live in humid climates, treatment options for large pores are elusive or unreliable.

Large pores may not be health-threatening or a disease symptom, but they can be the reason why we refuse to get up close with a mirror. A skin pore usually refers to an enlarged opening of pilosebaceous follicles. The pilosebaceous unit has the hair follicle, the sebaceous (oil) gland and skin muscles.

The mechanism by which visible facial pores occur remains unclear, but three possible causes have emerged: loss of skin elasticity, hair follicle size and excessive sebum production. Other potential factors that can influence this skin condition include genetics, chronic photodamageacne and vitamin A deficiency.

Excessive sebum production

Oily skin results from excess production of sebum by the oil glands, which fills the follicles and leaks onto the skin surface. During the menstrual cycle, sebum production levels are higher. Pore size is also larger during the ovulation phase. A surge of three hormones during the ovulation phase triggers the oil glands – luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and progesterone.

Severe acne

Previous cases of inflamed acne can destroy hair structures and leave them susceptible to influence by androgenic stimulation. Androgen is a hormone that exerts a major effect on sebocyte (cells found in oil glands) proliferation and sebum secretion. This means acne inflammation may cause you to be more prone to androgen activity, bringing about change in follicle volume and size.

Loss of skin elasticity

A main feature of skin’s ageing process is the loss of elasticity. Our skin’s collagen and elastin framework that supports skin resilience become less efficient due to ageing and chronic photodamage. A protein, crucial for elastic fiber assembly, called microfibril-associated glycoprotein-1 is also produced less over time. Without it, tissues around follicles provide less structural support and there is a loss of thickness in the skin dermal layer. Such changes lead to skin fragility, sagging and enlarged pores.

Hair thickness

The volume of our pores is dependent on the size of the hair follicle. There are dermal papilla cells in our hair follicles that contain androgen receptors. Our pore size is affected by the androgen activity in hair follicles.

Treatment options

Topical therapies

  • Topical retinoids are often considered as first-line therapies to reverse collagen and elastin-associated changes caused by aging and photodamage. Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives and were previously used as anti-ageing therapies before the efficacy for improving the appearance of facial pores were discovered.

Commonly used retinoids are tretinoin, isotretinoin and tazarotene for skin rejuvenation, regulating sebum production, and the reduction of wrinkles and large facial pores. Isotretinoin is the most potent inhibitor of sebum production.

Patients are advised to consult their dermatologist before any use of retinoids as side effects – such as inflammation, burning, redness or dry skin – are common.

  • Niacinamideis another cosmetic ingredient that can reduce sebum production.

 

  • Chemical peelscan also help rejuvenate the skin and improve the appearance of large pores. At the epidermal or dermal level, the application of acids induces the temporary breakdown and regeneration of healthier cells. Glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid are commonly used for chemical peels.

Oral therapy

Common oral therapies targeted at enlarged pores are anti-androgens, such as oral contraceptives, spironolactone and cyproterone acetate. They modulate sebum levels by blocking androgen action.

Lasers and ultrasound devices

Advanced devices have been developed to deliver targeted thermal or ultrasound energy to the skin. Such therapies work by remodelling the collagen fibers near our pores for increased skin elasticity and decreased sebum production. Non-ablative lasers helps with facial pore minimalisation and improved appearance of photoaged skin.

Hair removal

Pore volume may decrease with hair removal, especially so if patients have thick and dark facial hair. Laser or intense pulsed light sources can create photothermal destruction of the hair follicles to minimise appearance of large pores.

 

© 2018 TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre. All rights reserved.

—–

Meet with Dr. Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.

To book an appointment with Dr. Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email appt@twlskin.com. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.

A Dermatologist Explains Eczema & Its Treatment

August 4, 2018

 

Eczema is one of the most common skin disorders in infants and children. Apart from dealing with the medical aspect of the disease, affected patients may experience significant psychosocial effects.

Also termed as atopic dermatitis, it is very common in children but may occur at any age.

How does atopic dermatitis arise?

Atopic dermatitis is caused by a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors including:

  • Skin barrier dysfunction
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Immune dysfunction

The role of genetics in eczema

Most patients with eczema have a lower amount of filaggrin in the epidermal skin layer., due to mutations in the filaggrin gene. Filaggrin is a structural protein that plays a vital role in normal barrier structure and function. A lack of filaggrin contributes to the development of eczema in several ways.

Filaggrin breaks down into amino acids and protein derivative to form natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) in the outer skin layers. NMFs provide moisture retention, maintain the acidic pH and buffering capacity of the skin barrier and prevent an overgrowth of bacteria.

Inadequate filaggrin would mean a reduced ability to maintain hydration, which can cause xerosis (dry skin), pruritus (itching) and subsequently, eczema. A dysfunction in skin barrier may also allow entry of allergens, leading to an inflammatory response thus causing eczema.

Having an impaired barrier function also causes colonisation of a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus. Scratching disrupts the skin barrier, thus also leads to the bacteria adhering to the outer skin layers.

The extent of bacterial colonization is associated with the severity of eczema.

How immune dysfunction contributes to eczema

Apart from genetic factors, defects in immune pathways are usually observed in patients with eczema. They tend to have high levels Th-2 cells, which contribute to a defective skin barrier. Th-2 cells play an important role in the immune system. A poor skin barrier may mean water is lost from the skin and also allows the penetration of irritants (soap, dirt, detergent) and allergens (pollens, microbes, dust-mites).

There is also an overproduction of cytokines in the body. Cytokines are cell signalling molecules that aid in cell to cell communication. It regulates the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation and infection.

The excessive release of cytokines initiates new responses that eventually leads to inflammation, causing the red, itchy and painful symptoms common in eczema.

Patients also have high levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE), which puts them at disposition for hypersensitivity to environmental allergens. Hypersensitivity is when the immune system produces undesirable or detrimental reactions, such as attacking the body’s own cells or tissues instead of protecting them. With elevated IgE levels, it would mean exposure to a certain allergen can causes the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues and therefore skin inflammation that may be observed with eczema patients.

How to treat eczema?

When it comes to treatment, there are 3 main components that target a specific manifestation of the disease. As a chronic, relapsing condition that may flare up at variable intervals, a comprehensive home treatment plan is important for successful management.

Repair & Maintain Healthy Skin Barrier:

Lubrication of the skin is required to maintain skin hydration, commonly known as moisturisation. This helps to alleviate the discomfort that xerosis (dry skin) may bring about.

Patients with eczema should use moisturizers that are fragrance-free and least amount of preservatives, as these are potential irritants.

Reduce inflammation:

Topical corticosteroids are the most effective and common treatment. Corticosteroids are drugs that mimic cortisol, a hormone found in the body. They work by diminishing inflammation, itching and bacteria colonisation.

This medication can be classified according to its potency, ranging from class VII (low potency) to class I (super potent). Great care must be taken to balance the potency of drug needed for results so as to minimise potential side effects.

Side effects include:

  • Atrophy (decrease in size or wasting away of a body part/tissue)
  • Striae (stretch marks)
  • Acne
  • Telangiectasisa (small dilated blood vessels)
  • Secondary infections
  • Adrenal suppression (body produces lower levels of cortisol)

For moderate to severe eczema conditions, wet wrap therapy can be used with topical steroids and dermatologist-approved moisturisers. After the medication is applied to the affected area, it is wrapped with a few layers of wet gauze, followed by dry gauze. Such therapy reduces itching and inflammation by preventing scratching and improves penetration of corticosteroids.

Topical inhibitors of calcineurin – protein phosphatase associated with activation of the immune system, are newer forms of treatment, which are considered on areas unsuitable for topical steroids (e.g. eyelids) or if other treatment options do not yield results. For example, Pimecrolimus cream and Tacrolimus ointment are calcineurin inhibitors that have demonstrated good efficacy for eczema treatments and do not cause side effects that corticosteroids bring, but have other considerations of use that should be managed with an accredited dermatologist.

Itch control:

Antihistamines are commonly used to treat itching. Even without a significant rash, itching can be present. Oral antihistamines help to reduce the sensation of itching, ideally to decrease scratching and trauma to the skin.

Antibiotic or antifungal medicines are used to treat the infected rash, to reduce the amount of bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Topical mupirocin is often prescribed to prevent further infection.

Taking care of the skin 

Avoid dry skin. Asian skin is more susceptible to being dry. Dry skin can cause itching and scratching. Tips to avoid dry skin:

Avoid irritants that can cause or aggravate a rash, such as perfumes, scratchy clothing or bedding and sweating.

© 2018 TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre. All rights reserved.

—–

Meet with Dr. Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.

To book an appointment with Dr. Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email appt@twlskin.com. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.

 

 

 

 

Everything You Need to Know About Melanin & Dark Spots

July 19, 2018

 

Melanin is the culprit behind the dark spots that give us an uneven complexion. It is a brown pigment found in the basal layer of the epidermis.

This pigment is synthesised by melanocytes. The process of melanin synthesis is termed melanogenesis. Melanocytes go through different stages of maturation, becoming more pigmented at each stage.

Certain stimulants trigger a gene to produce more of tyrosinase, a copper-containing enzyme that converts tyrosine into melanin. Stimulants that activate the melanocyte include hormones, inflammation (such as acne) and external environmental conditions (ultraviolet light that causes the production of free radicals).

One simple way to reduce melanin production is to use broad-spectrum sunscreens with zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or iron oxide. These substances help block UVA and UVB light, thus impeding the stimulation of melanocytes.

Pigmentary disorders

Common hyperpigmentation disorders that involve the darkening of an area of skin due to increased melanin include melasma, lentigo, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Melasma is usually caused by chronic exposure to ultraviolet radiation or a spike in hormones due to pregnancy or the use of oral contraception. It can be found at the epidermisdermal layer or mixed, depending on the location of the pigment.

A lentigo is a light or dark brown area of discoloration that can range from 1mm to 1cm across, and is caused by an increased number of melanocytes. Its outline is usually discrete, but can also be irregular. Simple lentigines arise mostly during childhood on areas not exposed to the sun. Solar (or senile) lentigines are found on the backs of hands or on the face, most commonly after middle age.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is the skin’s response to inflammatory skin disorders. Common causes are acne and atopic dermatitis. PIH is caused by the overproduction of melanin caused by skin inflammation.

Treating hyperpigmentation

Hydroquinone: For 50 years, hydroquinone has been the gold standard treatment for hyperpigmentation. This compound inhibits tyrosinase activity, thus limiting the amount of melanin to be produced. It also alters melanosome formation, possibly degrading melanocytes.

However, prolonged use of topical hydroquinone has shown to have side effects such as ochronosis and permanent depigmentation. Ochronosis is a disorder with blue-black discoloration. As such, hydroquinone is banned in cosmetic formulations and only available through a prescription that should be carefully managed by an accredited dermatologist.

Retinoids are forms of vitamin A that can treat acnephotodamage and PIH. They have various pathways that lead to skin lightening effects, such as accelerating epidermal turnover, reducing pigment transfer and slowing the production of tyrosinase.

With common side effects being erythema, skin irritation, dryness and scaling, it is recommended to use a retinoid only under the supervision of an accredited dermatologist. Corticosteroids (steroid hormones) have anti-inflammatory abilities and are often prescribed along with retinoids to prevent excess irritation.

Arbutin is a botanically derived compound found in cranberries, blueberries, wheat and pears. Though arbutin is a derivative of hydroquinoine, it has shown to be a more controlled way of inhibiting the synthesis of melanin as it does not permanently destroy melanocytes.

Kojic acid is a naturally occurring fungal substance. Its skin-lightening ability works by inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase. However, frequent use can cause side effects of contact dermatitis or erythema (redness of the skin).

Azelaic acid is known to be effective for treating PIH and acne. Azelaic acid depigments the skin in several ways. It can inhibit tyrosinase or reduce levels of abnormal melanocytes. This means that azelaic acid does not influence normal skin pigmentation but only acts on the proliferation of unwanted melanocyte activity.  Side effects are mild and only last for a short period of time. Irritation, burning sensation or mild erythema may emerge, taking 2 to 4 weeks to subside.

Niacinamide is a derivative of vitamin B3. It works by decreasing the transfer of melanosome to keratinocytes. Niacinamide is a stable ingredient as it is unaffected by light, moisture or acids. This ingredient is often incorporated into cosmeceuticals due to its safety profile.

Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid is a naturally occurring antioxidant that helps with skin lightening. It prevents tyrosinase from converting tyrosine to melanin. Vitamin C is also favored for its anti-inflammatory and photoprotective properties. However, L-ascorbic acid is highly unstable and rapidly oxidized. It is not used in the treatment of PIH.

Stable forms of vitamin C include magnesium ascorbyl phosphate or sodium ascorbyl phosphate. For safe and effective results, consider a dermatologist-formulated serum VITA C GOLD™ Serum,a formulation tested for bio-activity in a laboratory.

As seen above, there are various treatment options to treat common hyperpigmentation disorders. Recognizing the underlying cause for pigmentation is critical for proper treatment and choosing the best-suited therapy. Visit an accredited dermatologist for effective and safe treatments catered to your condition.

© 2018 TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre. All rights reserved.

—–

Meet with Dr. Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.

To book an appointment with Dr. Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email appt@twlskin.com. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.

A Dermatologist Explains Rosacea and How to Treat It

June 11, 2018

 

If you experience persistent redness on your face, you may be suffering from rosacea. It is a common inflammatory skin condition that impacts a large portion of the fair-skinned population. Rosacea is more prevalent in women between 30 and 50 years of age, but there can be manifestations of the condition across all age groups.

Although it may be more common in people with fair skin, blue eyes and Celtic ascendance, rosacea is not uncommon in Asian populations. The itchy, stinging skin condition is often mistaken for eczema, leading to non-precise treatments that may exacerbate the condition.

Constant facial redness is the most common sign of rosacea and resembles a frequent flush or sunburn that does not go away. Such redness may be accompanied by a tingling heat or warmth that comes and goes.

 

Types of Rosacea

Rosacea can be classified into 4 clinical subtypes: erthematotelangiectatic, papulopustular, phymatous and ocular. Most subtypes have characteristics of flushing and telangiectasia, where small blood vessels are prominent and visible. Patients are often diagnosed with more than one rosacea subtype and experience increased sensitivity of the facial skin such as burning, stinging or itchy sensations.

Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea is characterised by redness and flushing in the centre of the face, with telangiectasia present in most patients. The skin may be very sensitive and swollen.Telangiectasias are visible small, broken or widened blood vessels. Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea is the most common subtype and has a tendency to flush or blush more easily than other people.

Papulopustular rosacea is marked by bumps and pimples that result from chronic inflammation. Redness is also visible in this subtype, while telangiectasias may not be as evident here. This subtype may have acne-like breakouts and oily skin, but it must be differentiated from acne as the treatment required differs.

Phymatous rosacea is uncommon in women and develops over years. Marked by thickened skin and irregular skin surface, it has a bumpy texture. This subtype is rare, as the patient often has symptoms of another rosacea subtype first. The skin may thicken on the nose, chin, forehead, cheeks and ears, and pores appear large.

Patients with ocular rosacea may feel a burning sting around the eyes and experience crusty discharge on the lashes or eyelids. For this subtype, rosacea is affecting mostly the eye. The eyes may be more sensitive to light. Eyelids can be swollen and styes can be frequent. Patients having this condition may also have a watery or bloodshot appearance and may not have their vision as well as before.

 

What causes rosacea?

According to Dr Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre, she said:  “There is an underlying genetic predisposition for patients with rosacea, individuals with a family history of rosacea are more likely to develop the condition. While studies on the cause of rosacea remain unclear, it is proposed that underlying features are inflammation and vascular reactivity, leading to erythema (redness) and presence of papules and pustules.”

Certain triggers can stimulate an immune response, such as alcohol consumption, spices, hormones, stress, UV radiation, microbes, extreme weathers, humidity and certain cosmetics.

In the pathogenesis of rosacea, it is proposed that a microbial organism called Demodex Folliculoru incites a flare by triggering an immune response in patients with rosacea. In simpler terms, patients with rosacea do not react well to certain triggers as they incite an exaggerated immune response. The immune system then releases an overproduction of factors, leading to inflammation and vascular dilation.

 

Treating rosacea

Treatment begins with a proper diagnosis, including identifying the subtype. Most therapies focus on suppressing the symptoms and targeting inflammation.

Lifestyle interventions include using high-factor sunscreens, patient education, dietary changes and avoiding irritants and triggers. Photoprotection has always been an important step, but for patients with rosacea, it becomes even more crucial as photoprotection may prevent a flare triggered by sun exposure.

A gentle skin care regimen is recommended to maintain skin hydration and barrier function. As the psychosocial impact of rosacea can greatly influence individuals, whilst cover-up or colour-correcting powders can also be recommended to mitigate the effect.

Topical treatment options to inhibit the inflammatory pathways that are involved in rosacea include azelaic acid, erythromycin and metronidazole. Depending on the severity of the condition and the patient’s skin sensitivity, the medium of the topicals may be lotion, cream, gel or foam.

Short-term oral antibacterials such as tetracyclines and macrolides may also be prescribed when topical therapies fail to control the disease. For persistent cases of rosacea, oral isotretinoin may also be required. Laser, light-based therapies and surgical interventions are also treatment options for certain patients.

 

Conclusion

Rosacea is a serious medical condition that is often underdiagnosed and undertreated, even though this condition potentially has a great psychosocial impact on the affected individual. As the common initial symptoms are often mistaken for something else,such as sunburn, rosacea may go undiagnosed for most patients.

A proper diagnosis along with precise treatments can significantly improve the patient’s quality of life. If symptoms of rosacea appear, it is recommended to consult an accredited dermatologist for advice and proper management, to prevent the condition from getting worse.

© 2018 TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre. All rights reserved.

—–

Meet with Dr. Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.

To book an appointment with Dr. Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email appt@twlskin.com. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.