What is the first thing that comes to mind when we think of acne?
Most people would immediately think of big red, poppable pimples. But did you know that these are NOT the only types of acne that you might be experiencing?
Acne is a condition that tends to occur anywhere that tends to be saturated with sebaceous glands. Unfortunately, while sebum production is supposed to help protect and moisturize our skin—in excess amounts, it can result in acne-prone skin.
If you don’t already know, acne can be divided into two key categories: inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne.
Both blackheads and whiteheads fall into the non-inflammatory group; while pimples, otherwise known as papules and pustules fall into the latter category.
No matter the type—the first step of acne treatment is to always know thy enemy. Let’s jump straight into understanding the causes and differences between all three acne types!
What are blackheads and whiteheads?
Otherwise known as open and closed comedones, blackheads and whiteheads occur whenever your skin is clogged and experiencing an excess in sebum production.
Closed comedones, or whiteheads, appear when the follicle is completely blocked and the oil plug develops beneath the follicle; creating a little white bump on top of the skin.
On the other hand, open comedones, aka blackheads, are the tiny black dots that occur when the oil plug is situated near the opening of the pore. Blackheads differ from whiteheads as the skin over the pore is open—causing oxidization of the plug that gives it its signature black colour.
The key difference between the comedones and pimples is that they are not inflamed, do not swell and do not contain any pus. However, comedones can eventually lead to inflamed zits; especially when left untreated, which is why you should aim to save your skin now as soon as you notice these pesky bumps appearing.
Comedones are considered to be the building blocks of more severe types of acne and can develop on their own or transform into its uglier form—painful and swollen papules, pustules, cysts or nodules.
What are pimples?
As briefly mentioned earlier, whenever inflammation is involved—the blemish is considered to be a pimple. The dirt and debris that is clogging up your pores is the perfect environment for acne-causing bacteria to thrive and grow, which in turn leads to inflammatory acne.
These are often the more moderate-to-severe types of acne such as pustules, nodules and cysts that are often more painful and difficult to treat; however, not impossible.
Just remember that the main similarity between all three types is that it always begins with an oil plug within the pore.
What are your treatment options?
The best acne spot treatment is focused on removing the three precursors of acne: excess sebum production, clogged pores and the P.acne bacteria.
Open and closed comedones are often much easier to treat and often resolve with topical therapy.
Here is a quick summary of over-the-counter and prescription treatments that work great:
- Salicylic acid: unclogs pores and helps prevent non-inflammatory acne from returning in the future.
- Benzoyl peroxide: anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effect that prevents inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne.
- Retinoids/Retinol (e.g. tazarotene and tretinoin): derived from Vitamin A, it is prescribed by a doctor and can be useful for both non-inflammatory and inflammatory types by helping to unclog pores, fade pigmentation and increase skin cell turnover.
- Antibiotics: oral or topical, helps get rid of the P.acnes bacteria and decrease inflammation.
- AHAs and BHAs: helps to exfoliate and rid the skin of dead skin cells. E.g. glycolic acid, lactic acid and mandelic acid.
One particular treatment that is used to permanently resolve acne is called isotretinoin, which is most commonly prescribed for patients with severe cystic acne. While effective, it comes with the risk of side effects such as dry skin, chapped lips, thinning hair to more serious ones like birth defects and mood changes.
Depending on the severity of your acne, other alternative treatments include facials, chemical peels and laser therapy which should always be conducted with a professional and experienced aesthetic doctor.
A few steps closer to clear, acne-free skin
As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended to visit a doctor if you are experiencing moderate to severe acne that is painful and affecting your mental and emotional well-being.
All of our treatments have been rigorously selected by our team of aesthetic doctors and are focused on providing safe, minimally invasive and consistent results—whether it be a hair transplant, stretch mark removal or threadlift procedure.
Possessing over 20 years of experience and expertise in acne treatment in Singapore, our doctors have created a unique set of methods and techniques to tackle and fight off acne for good. With over 10 different treatments to choose from, this includes:
Featuring a patented technology that uses vortex cleansing to deep clean the pores and remove micro-blockages, HydraFacial is effective for getting rid of both blackheads and whiteheads and prevents the pores from getting clogged to better manage acne in the long run.
Our treatment also includes Alphalight to eliminate acne-causing bacteria. Combined with a relaxing facial and shoulder massage, as well as a custom hydrating mask, this lunchtime procedure simultaneously works to improve skin’s texture, reduce hyperpigmentation and also boost skin’s hydration.
- Q-switch laser
The Q-switch laser is an FDA-approved treatment that uses laser light to eradicate sebaceous glands and remove bacteria. With virtually zero downtime, it helps prevent the occurrence of active inflammatory acne by minimizing pores and removing blackheads to give you smoother, clearer skin in just a few sessions.
The laser also triggers the production of collagen and restructuring the skin which is effective for acne scar removal!
- Vbeam laser
Vbeam utilizes a longer pulse wavelength to create “controlled burns” to the skin to produce different effects. Considered to be the gold-standard for treating vascular lesions, the 595nm wavelength targets any melanin pigments and haemoglobin present in red blood cells, helping to decrease any redness and scarring caused by acne.
In fact, the yellow light emitted from the laser is able to simultaneously destroy the P.acnes bacteria and treat excessive oil production, leading to fewer breakouts. A multi-tasking treatment with multiple benefits, our doctors like to combine both Q-switch and Vbeam for boosted effects!
With no discomfort, downtime and risk of complications, this is the ideal treatment for patients who wish to return to their daily activities as soon as possible.
- Long-pulsed laser
While the long-pulse Nd:YAG laser is commonly used for hair removal, it is also an excellent treatment for refining the pores, rejuvenating the skin and reducing the appearance of vascular lesions.
Suitable for all skin types, its 1,064nm wavelength is able to deliver energy deeper into the dermis to stimulate collagen production and shrink large pores with little to no side effects, successfully clearing away any scarring and pigmentation left behind when acne heals.
A permanent solution to cystic acne and recurring breakouts, AGNES works to selectively target acne-prone follicles on the face. Using tiny microscopic needles and radiofrequency energy, it shuts down overactive oil glands without harming surrounding healthy skin.
Just 3 sessions can help to clear up to 90% of your acne, and researchers have found it effective in treating both non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne. During the treatment, your skin is also cleansed and scaled to deal with comedones concurrently!
- Gold PTT
For those with mild and cystic acne to those dealing with frequent acne breakouts, we recommend our Gold Photothermal Therapy (PTT) treatment. Utilizing gold nanoparticles and delivering them into the pores and oil glands using the Bellasonic device, our doctors will activate the nanoparticles with the help of specialized lasers to heat up and modify the sebaceous glands to effectively treat and keep active acne at bay.
In fact, our clinic is the first to introduce both AGNES and Gold PTT in Singapore—and are confident that we can successfully resolve all types of acne.
Ultimately, the majority of patients often deal with several types of acne, which is why the best acne treatments are a combination of the ones mentioned above. Our doctors believe in personalized, combination treatments that include acne scar treatments using Rejuran, Fractional CO2 laser, Vbeam and even subcision for acne scar to help our patients achieve a naturally beautiful and healthy complexion.
If you are ready to kickstart your journey with us, contact us to book your consultation today!