Acne is not an uncommon sight for anyone, regardless of age, race, or gender. The little white bumps on one’s face are relatively normal and its appearance and disappearance is so commonplace that we accept it as a recurring part in our daily lives. But what is it exactly, and how can one overcome it?

Acne forms when hair follicles on your skin are plugged with oil and dead skin cells, resulting in several variations such as whiteheads (closed plugged pores), blackheads (open plugged pores), or pimples (small, red bumps with pus at the tip).

While these are the most common ones, other types of acne may also occur, such as nodules (painful lumps beneath the skin’s surface) or cysts (larger lumps underneath the skin that contain pus).

Typically, acne forms on the face, but can also appear on the chest, upper back, and shoulders.


What causes it?

To keep itself soft and lubricated, the skin relies on pores which consist of a hair follicle and a sebaceous gland that produces oil which then travels up the hair, onto the skin to maintain its softness.

Acne occurs when the pores are clogged with too much oil, buildup of dead skin cells, bacteria buildup in the pores, or a combination of all three.


What treatments are available to overcome acne?

There are several ways to treat acne and reduce the risk of it breaking out:


Home Care

  • Shampooing your hair regularly to maintain a regular oil coat
  • Cleansing your skin frequently with mild soap to rid it of excess oil and dirt
  • Refraining from squeezing the pimple, as it runs the risk of spreading the bacteria and oil to other parts of the skin
  • Avoid wearing hats
  • Using makeup that is water-based



  • Salicylic acid is a topical antibacterial agent that helps unplug pores due to its exfoliation capabilities. The acid is commonly found in various soaps and acne solutions.
  • Benzoyl peroxide not only kills bacteria that causes acne, it also dries out existing pimples and effectively prevents new ones. The compound can be found in acne creams and gels.

In more serious cases, an individual may require consultation with a doctor, who will then prescribe you with oral or topical antibiotics to reduce inflammation, kill the bacteria, and prevent scarring.


What are some of the best practices to prevent acne?

It is impossible to prevent acne, but there are some practices to reduce the chances of acne happening, including:

  • Keeping good facial hygiene by washing it with an appropriate cleanser
  • Wearing loose clothing
  • Changing your diet to include less refined sugars
  • Reducing stress
  • Using water-based makeup instead of oil-based
  • Taking a shower after exercising


Speak to our doctors today to learn how you can combat acne today!


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Do you seek advice for your skin issues from the internet? 

Social media has become such an inherent part of our lives that often, the first thing that comes to mind when we have a question to answer is scroll through our Facebook, Instagram, TikTok feeds for the solution. This often gives us a mix of results, some work, and some do not work. We often just laugh off the ones that do not work and promise ourselves not to follow it again, just to go through the same cycle soon after. 

This is benign in many circumstances, but more recently, a survey published (Yousaf A et al. Pediatr Dermatol. 2020 Jan 15. doi: 10.1111/pde.14091.) suggests that many patients consult social media for advice even on acne treatment. Also showed in that same study is that the majority of people who do will go on to follow recommendations that do not align with proven clinical guidelines. 

The study surveyed 130 patients of whom 45% consulted social media for advice on acne treatment and 52% of those went on to follow recommendations that do not correspond to medical guidelines. Most patients reported no (40%) to minimal (53%) improvement in their acne after following the advice. 

Of the most common social media platforms used, YouTube and Instagram came tops, with 58% each, followed by Pinterest (31%), Facebook (19%), Twitter (9%), Snapchat (7%). [patients could select more than one platform].

The social media advice patients went on to follow included using over the counter products (81%), making dietary adjustments (40%), using self-made products (19%) and taking supplements (16%). 

Of these, only 7% reported significant improvement in their acne. This is a concerning trend, and poor results are likely due to inaccurate content on social media compared to healthcare sources. 

It is not difficult to see why there is so much misinformation on the internet. Social media is increasingly becoming not just the main route of marketing products, it has also indirectly fueled emotional and mental associations of an individual to their appearance by increase in usage of social media and photo-editing apps. The global anti-acne cosmetics market size was valued at USD2.07 billion in 2018 and continues to grow year on year. With multiple parties trying to get a share of the market, unscrupulous parties have marketed products either with false claims, using a variety of marketing tactics to reach these vulnerable patients. 

Acne patients are prone to suffer from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, poor quality of life and loneliness, and it is not rocket science as to why that is. Acne can be a debilitating disease, and may leave permanent scars which are sometimes even more difficult to treat than the acne itself. In the survey, about half of the patients (51%) had moderate acne, while 38% had severe acne. Only 11% of the patients surveyed had mild acne. Taking up the advice on social media means that patients with moderate to severe acne may have been delayed in their seeking medical treatment for their acne, and deprived of early treatment. It is especially crucial in these patients that medical treatment of acne is instituted quickly and effectively to prevent lifelong scarring. 

Acne is not only a social concern. It is a medical condition with medical treatments that are able to address it. Solutions seen on social media may be effective for one person, but the results may be the complete opposite in another individual. Treatment of acne is never a once-size-fits-all solution and a tailored treatment based on the assessment of the doctor is crucial for its success. Unproven treatments are never a replacement to medically proven treatments that have not only been reviewed for their efficacy in labs, but in large randomized controlled trials all over the world. 

If you are suffering from acne, speak to your doctor about treatments before speaking to Dr. Social Media.

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