Tag Archive: eczema

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.
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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.

 

 

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Suffering from sensitive skin; eczema?

November 10, 2017

 

Formerly known as Besnier prurigo, Eczema — also known as atopic dermatitis — is the most common form of dermatitis. It is categorised as a chronic, itchy skin condition. Eczema is less common in adults and more commonly affects 15–20% of children. It is almost impossible to predict whether the condition of one’s eczema will improve by itself or not in an individual. Sensitive skin is a condition that persists life-long. In a meta-analysis of over 110,000 subjects, it was found that children who developed eczema before the age of 2 had a much lower risk of persistent disease than those who developed eczema later in childhood or during adolescence. 20% of children with eczema still had persistent disease 8 years later. Fewer than 5% had persistent disease 20 years later.

Since ‘atopic tendency’ such as eczema, asthma and hay fever can be passed down through the family, knowing one’s own family history of asthma, eczema or hay fever is very useful in diagnosing atopic dermatitis in infants. The complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors causes and triggers Eczema. Defects in skin barrier function make the skin more susceptible to irritation by contact irritants such as soap, the weather, temperature and non-specific triggers. The appearance of eczema varies from person to person. In acute eczema flares, inflamed, red, sometimes blistered and weepy patches are common. In between such eczema flares, the skin may appear normal or suffer from chronic eczema with dry, thickened and itchy areas. The appearance and feel if eczema varies from one’s ethnic origin, age, types of creams applies, the presence of infection or an additional skin condition. However, there are some general patterns to where the eczema is found on the body according to the age of the affected person.

Although eczema can manifest itself in older people for the first time, the onset of eczema is usually seen before a child turns two. It is widely distributed amongst infants less than one-year-old. It is unusual for an infant to be affected with eczema before the age of four months. However, they may suffer from infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis or other rashes prior to this. As infant’s tend to scratch at their itchy skin with their sharp baby nails, the appearance of eczema in infants tend to be usually scaly, dry, and red. The signs of eczema are physically first apparent on cheeks of infants. Due to the moisture retention of nappies, the appearance of eczema in the napkin area is frequently spared. However, just like other babies, if wet or soiled nappies are left on too long, they can develop irritant napkin dermatitis. Although, eczema is often worst between the ages of two and four it usually improves after four and it may clear altogether by the time one enters into teenhood.

As toddlers tend to scratch vigorously at their itchy skins, the appearance of their eczema may look very raw and uncomfortable. As they start to move around, eczema tends to become more thickened and localised. Body parts and areas such as the extensor aspects of joints, specifically the elbows, wrists, knees and ankles and even genitals are most commonly affected in this age group. This changes as the child grow older. The pattern frequently shifts from extensor aspects of the joints to the flexor surfaces of the same joints, such as creases. This is when the affected skin often becomes lichenified; thickened and dry from constant rubbing and scratching. However, the extensor pattern of eczema persists into later childhood in some children. Older school-age children tend to develop a flexural pattern of eczema which commonly affects the elbow and knee creases and other susceptible areas such as the scalp, eyelids, earlobes, and neck. It is possible for school-age children to develop recurrent acute itchy blisters on their palms, fingers and sometimes on the feet, medically known as pompholyx or vesicular hand/foot dermatitis. Many children in this age group tend to develop a ‘nummular’ pattern of atopic dermatitis. This refers to the appearance of small coin-like areas of eczema scattered over the body. Commonly mistaken for a fungal infection such as a ringworm, the appearance of these round patches of eczema are usually red, dry and itchy. Most of the eczema tends to improve during school years and it may completely clear up by the time they reach their teenage years. However it is important to note that the barrier function of the skin is never entirely normal.

The presence of eczema in adults are varied in many ways. Despite having a possibility to have a diffused pattern of eczema, eczema in adults is usually more dry and lichenified compared to eczema in children. Eczema is adults are commonly persistent, localised, and possibly confined to the eyelids, nipples, flexure, and hands or all of these areas. Hand dermatitis in adult atopic tends to appear thickened, dry but may also be blistered at the same time. Infections such as staphylococcal infections are both recurrent and a prominent possibility. Occupational irritant contact dermatitis can trigger eczema. This most often affects hands that are regularly exposed to water, detergents and /or solvents. As eczema can be triggered by physical, environmental and cosmetic factors, particular occupations such as hairdressing, farming, domestic duties, domestic and industrial cleaning and caregiving tend to expose the skin to various irritants and, sometimes, allergens, aggravating eczema. As it is easier to choose a more suitable occupation from the outset than to change it later, tt is wise to bear this in mind when considering career options. Having atopic dermatitis does not exclude contact allergic dermatitis (confirmed by patch tests in children and adults).

  • It could take many months to years to treat eczema and treatments plans often includes:
    – Intermittent topical steroids
    – Reduction of exposure to trigger factors
    – Regular moisturisers, medically known as emollients
    – In some cases, management may also include one of more of the following:
    – Antibiotics
    – Antihistamines
    – Crisabarole ointment
    – Phototherapy
    – Topical calcineurin inhibitors, such as pimecrolimus cream or tacrolimus ointment
    – Oral corticosteroids
    – Longstanding and severe eczema may be treated with an immunosuppressive agent.
    – Azathioprine
    – Ciclosporin
    – Methotrexate
  • Clinical trials of biologics such as Dupilumab are promising cures for eczema.

© 2017 twlskin.com. All rights reserved.

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Meet with Dr. Teo Wan Lin, consultant 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.

3 Questions About Sensitive Skin Answered By a Dermatologist

October 3, 2017

By Dr. Teo Wan Lin, Consultant Dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre

Many patients that come to me say: “I have super sensitive skin and I break out easily from using the wrong kinds of products.” However, from a dermatologist’s point of view, skincare or makeup alone (especially if labelled non-comedogenic like most brands on the market are) do not cause breakouts or pimples. These are instead signs of acne-prone skin, which is a medical condition that needs to be treated with prescription medication.

1. How Do I Know If I have Sensitive Skin?

Make a visit to an accredited dermatologist. They will usually ask you the following questions:

Do you suffer from symptoms such as skin redness, flaking, itch or stinging pain? Did you have eczema, asthma or sensitive nose when you were young, or have a family history of eczema or sensitive skin? Does your skin get red and itchy when you use makeup or skincare products, or when you are exposed to a dusty or sweaty environment? Does your skin act up when travelling to a cold or dry climate?

Dermatologists diagnose true “sensitive skin”, with a medical condition known as eczema, where common exposures to the environment or skincare and make up can trigger off flare-ups.

2. What Is Defined As Sensitive Skin Then?

People with sensitive skin are likely to have atopic dermatitis, which is a genetically determined condition where the skin is deficient in certain fats. The skin acts as a barrier to the environment and, without a proper functioning skin barrier, any dust, climate change, pet fur, or even emotional stress can trigger off a flare-up.

 If you have never had any of these symptoms and suddenly experience “sensitivity”, especially soon after using a new skincare or makeup product, it might actually be a form of allergic contact dermatitis to an applied substance. This would be best reviewed by a dermatologist who might suggest a patch test and also receive appropriate medical treatment.

Undiagnosed and untreated skin sensitivity can become chronic and may result in scarring such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation which results in dark marks on one’s face.

3. So What Is The Solution To Sensitive Skin ?

RADIANCÉ FLUIDE™ is dermatologically formulated for sensitive skin to provide moisture and hydration, providing a light-weight feel in the day for a radiant makeup base.

Your dermatologist will prescribe you anti-inflammatory creams such as topical steroids of the appropriate strength and ceramide-rich emollients that replenish the skin barrier. In the case of any infection, oral antibiotics to clear the skin infection would also be prescribed. Oral steroids may also be required for severe eczema.

Here are three of the best skincare tips for people with sensitive skin: 

1) Look for “dermatologically tested and formulated” labels that are produced in certified laboratories and that work with dermatologists rather than cosmetic brands.

2) Get your dermatologist to recommend a gentle cleanser formulated for effective cleansing of eczema-prone skin.

3) Get your sensitive skin treated first before using anti-ageing products
Many anti-ageing products contain stimulating ingredients which may worsen sensitive skin. If you do use them, look for a product that’s recommended by your dermatologist.

© 2017 Dr. Teo Wan Lin. All rights reserved.

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Meet with Dr. Teo Wan Lin, founder and Specialist Consultant Dermatologist of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, an accredited dermatologist specialising in medical and aesthetic dermatology. She integrates her artistic sensibility with her research background and specialist dermatologist training, by means of customised, evidence-based aesthetic treatments using state-of the-art machines, injectables (fillers and toxins) which work synergistically with her proprietary line of specialist dermatologist grade cosmeceuticals Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals.

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 Singapore Dermatologist’s Personal Skincare tips

April 13, 2017

Whether you are a local, or an expat that lives in Singapore, one is struck by the stark weather of this equatorial city- constantly humid with temperatures rising above 30 degrees celsius. The cause of our sweaty pimply skin, simply put, Singapore’s weather causes bad skin-acne on the face, pimples on the chest and back. True or false?

Also, too many aesthetic clinics and medi-spas are advertising some sort of acne treatment for our humid climate, how does one know if it’s going to work? Does bad skincare cause problems and what exactly constitutes good skincare?

As many of my patients have asked, I share my top tips on maintaining good skin in Singapore (which you could achieve on your own), and how to get treatment when you really need it.

1. If it’s bothering you, you may have a real skin problem. Do see a dermatologist.

Do you suffer from any of these: sensitive skin and break-outs if the products were not right? Constant red face? Having flaky itchy skin whenever you’re traveling? Always having a pimple breakout at that time of the month?

If you have any of these symptoms, stop self-medicating and applying a bunch of anti-redness or “sensitive skin” products if you have these symptoms, it’s just going to make it worse. All of the above can be treated with proper medications. Eczema treatment for flaky, sensitive and itchy skin, hormonal acne treatment for pimples around that time of the month, and sometimes it isn’t even really acne. I’ve seen cases of perioral dermatitis that have been wrongly diagnosed as acne and obviously did not improve.

Acne on the chest and back is often actually a fungal infection known as pityosporum folliculitis. This sort of chest and back “acne” requires treatment with specific antifungal lotions and creams. People who are at risk include athletes or those living in a humid country like Singapore, as the constant sweating and the moist environment worsens it. When chest and back acne or fungal infections are left untreated, it leaves bad scars and even develops secondary bacterial infections.

If you always have a red face you may likely suffer from rosacea. Rosacea treatment is  with correct oral antibiotics and creams before anti-redness lasers (to eradicate the blood vessels) are used. Rosacea is triggered off by hot climates, spicy foods, emotions in certain people who are at risk. It is likely to be related to increased blood vessel sensitivity as well as certain mites that live on your skin (demodex mites).

If you have any such symptoms, stop all skincare products and promptly seek the care of a dermatologist rather than self-medicate, or adopt a “wait-it-out’ attitude. Some tips: Look for the labels “dermatologically tested and formulated” when it comes to choosing cleansers, moisturisers and cosmeceutical products. Avoid testing many different cosmetic products which have no scientific evidence proving effectiveness. Finally, where possible avoid dust, extremes of temperature and humidity, prolonged contact with sweat as these tend to worsen skin sensitivity.

2. Don’t use just any wash on your face, use a dermatologist-tested and formulated cleanser.

It almost feels like because Singapore is so warm we constantly need to keep washing  and keeping clean because of the sweat! As a dermatologist, I’ve heard from many patients with acne how they struggle to wash their face 3 times a day and are puzzled that they still have pimples. Cleansers perform one function, they emulsify the dirt, oil and bacteria in the foam which is rinsed off with water. Acne not due to dirt or bacteria, although they both can worsen people who already are prone to acne, such as those who have a family history of acne, so no amount of washing can actually get rid of acne.

There is a difference between normal cleansers and those which are dermatologist-tested/formulated. Cleansers approved by dermatologists are gentle on the skin, due to a good balance of the lathering agent and use of quality ingredients that do not strip the skin dry of it’s natural moisture while cleansing effectively. I personally formulate a honey-based cleanser which is suitable for both oily skin and sensitive skin types in Singapore (honey is a natural emulsifying agent which also has anti-bacterial properties) for my patients. Cleansers that leave your skin feeling squeaky clean is usually a bad sign, so stop using your supermarket cleanser and start looking carefully for those “dermatologist-tested and formulated” labels.

3. Don’t buy more scrubs or clay masks to clean your face better.

It amuses me that most of my patients are shocked when they hear this from me, their dermatologist, almost as if I am wrong to say that. Dermatologists do not agree with a lot of what beauty companies/aesthetics providers (who are not qualified dermatologists) are telling the public.  The beauty industry is limited by what they are allowed to use in their salons (none of the prescription medications that would actually work is found in these places) and are are very happy to include more products in your regimen to earn your dollar. Dermatologists have seen way too many complications because of an incomplete understanding of the actual science of how skin behaves. Scrubbing with harsh beady grains of sand would work if your skin was made of wood, like sandpapering it down. In reality, you do not brighten or “exfoliate’’ your skin with that but rather you are causing damage and irritation to your skin, that’s maybe even the cause of your sensitive skin and red face problems.

Clay masks? Totally unnecessary even for oily and acne-prone skin types because it’s actually the salicylic acid content in these masks that causes your acne to get better, but not without really dehydrating your skin after that (these masks are dry out your skin with an astringent). Most of my patients end up with a red itchy flaky face, on top of acne after they go on a clay-mask spree hoping that it would cure their oily face and acne. Dermatologists do not prescribe clay masks for any skin problem because there are much more effective options for treatment of oily skin and acne. What counts in a skin treatment product is the active ingredient in these masks and products, so again, start looking down the ingredient list of your next bottle!

4. Use cosmeceuticals but do thorough brand research first.

Haven’t heard of cosmeceutical yet?  It has become quite a fashionable word amongst the dermatologists community (for those in the know). It’s a marriage of two words “pharmaceuticals” and “cosmetics”. It’s actually referring to skincare with active ingredients best for skin that’s backed by dermatologists.

Am i too young? Or too old? Do i even need to get started?For best results, start on cosmeceuticals early, in your twenties for maintenance of your youth. If you are already in your thirties and forties or beyond, fret not, cosmeceuticals are a useful adjunct to the laser/filler/botox treatments recommended by your dermatologist and help to enhance and maintain the effects of such anti-aging treatments.

There are a myriad of cosmetic brands that claim wonders. Unfortunately, cosmeceuticals are not regulated by the HSA and so are not bound to their claims. Hence, it’s difficult for the consumer to know if a given product can do what it claims it can do, contains the ingredients it claims to, or if the ingredients are even active forms? Moreover, if the ingredients have phototoxic or photo reactive properties when exposed to the sun, among other concerns.What then? There is true evidence for the  anti-aging properties of cosmeceuticals, but you are wise to consult a dermatologist before you buy. The HSA does not regulate the effectiveness of anti-aging products available without a prescription.

5. Go for a chemical peel or a medi-facial monthly at your dermatologist’s office in your twenties. Lasers in your thirties and beyond.

What is true about acne and the humid Singapore climate is that it all encourages the build up of dead keratin (read: skin flakes) which plug the pores and cause inflammation. Even if you don’t have acne, the build-up of keratin on your face with reduced skin turnover as one grows older, or due to environmental conditions such as exposure to pollutants and to sun. All these cause free-radical damage and accelerated aging, makes one’s face look dull and hence lose the bright complexion of one’s youth. A regular chemical peel (salicylic, lactic or glycolic acids as suited for your skin type should be determined by your dermatologist) or a medi-facial (I would use a vacuum handpiece with customised chemical peel solutions for patients), would reduce your chances of having oily acne-skin breakouts and reverse early signs of mild aging. It’s affordable as well. However, this alone will not work for a lot of patients with more severe acne/oily skin, for which they may require laser treatments to shrink oil glands or take oral isotretinoin for control of severe acne.

© 2017 Dr. Teo Wan Lin. All rights reserved.

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Dr. Teo Wan Lin is a leading dermatologist in Singapore and also the Medical Director of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre

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

Top Eczema Tips & Treatment by a Singapore Dermatologist – Eczema…Staying free of this treatable condition at any age

December 16, 2016

By Dr. Teo Wan Lin, Consultant Dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre

What causes eczema in children?

Eczema is primarily due to a defect in the skin barrier, which is genetically determined. It can be made worse by skin irritants, allergies, environment and stress.

Is eczema hereditary?

Definitely. If one or more parents suffer from eczema, the child is also more likely to develop the condition.

What should parents look for when trying to detect the onset of eczema?

Eczema typically starts as an itchy, dry skin condition in the first year of life or later. Parents may notice red, scaly patches occurring on areas such as scalp, face, chin, body, arms, legs or knees. Children may rub themselves against bedding to relieve themselves of the itch. This could be severe because it will interrupt children’s sleep at night.

Are food and allergies always linked?

Food does not cause eczema. However, some studies show that children below the age of 4 may find that certain foods worsen the condition of eczema. It is important to consult with your child’s dermatologist before excluding food from your child’s diet as children need a balanced diet . Only children with established food allergies will find that certain food can aggravate their eczema condition.

What should children with eczema refrain from doing?

Instead of scratching, children should be taught to pat their skin. At the same time, they should also keep the skin properly moisturised, keep their fingernails clipped and wear cotton gloves to bed. They should also wear clothing of light, breathable material such as cotton to sleep.

How should parents shower their child with eczema?

It’s best to use soap-free cleansers or bath oils. Try to avoid soaps containing sodium laureth sulphate as it contains a lathering agent that can irritate and dry the skin even more. Parents should also avoid abrasive materials such as loofahs or wash clothes.

The shower is preferably kept short, using lukewarm rather than hot water. After the shower, pat the skin dry with a towel and use moisturiser liberally when the skin is slightly damp.

When do parents need to bring their child to a dermatologist?

Eczema at any age needs to be treated, ideally by a dermatologist. In the situation when eczema gets out of control, such as when the itch significantly affects the child’s daily activities. If the skin is infected — red with pus oozing out or if the child is unwell — then it will be necessary to seek medical attention.

I heard eczema cannot be cured, is that true? 

The root cause of eczema is in the genetics, which cannot be changed. With better understanding of eczema these days, it can be fully treated and controlled by a dermatologist. Topical steroids are of paramount importance when reducing inflammation caused by eczema.

Are there any side effects of steroid treatments?

If steroids they are used inappropriately, they can cause skin thinning, which is cosmetically disfiguring. There is also a phenomenon called tachyphylaxis, which is when normal steroids lose their effects, and stronger steroids are required instead.

However, if you are getting your eczema treated by a qualified medical professional, the correct dose, potency, duration and class of steroid will be given — appropriate to your child’s eczema depending on the location, age group and severity of eczema.

© 2017 Dr Teo Wan Lin. All rights reserved.

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Dr. Teo is an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre who is well-versed with childhood eczema. She has been interviewed on the topic by Singapore magazine, Motherhood, and Singapore news channel, Channel NewsAsia

To book an appointment with Dr. Teo regarding your child’s eczema problem, call us at+65 6355 0522, oremail appt@twlskin.com. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here