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  • Dr. Henry Ngai

Seven tips for acne treatment success: 

The impact of acne

Acne is one of the most disturbing skin conditions that afflicts the human race. It is a truly undiscriminating disease as it affects both genders, all races and over a wide age range. Acne affects a person physically and psychologically. Many people who have acne problem feel withdrawn and depressed because of the social inconvenience it imparts. The quality of life in people who have serious acne is similar to people who suffer from other debilitating medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or serious bowel disorders.

What to do when traditional treatment fail?

At Reviva, we see many acne patients every day who come because they have “failed” in the acne treatment they receive from their physicians. However, from studies done on these medical treatment, we know there is high degree of success. So why the higher failure rate in the real world?

Of course, there are people whose acne is so serious that more specialized treatment is needed. However, before we resort to cosmetic procedures or other aggressive treatments, there are several things we would like to review with the patients so as to maximize the efficacy of the prescribed drug products. The following are some tips on using topical acne medications:

Treatment tips you can use today

  1. Use mild cleanser – many drugs used in acne treatment are skin irritants. To mitigate the potential irritation, we advise all acne patients to use a mild cleanser, ie, any facial cleanser that would leave your skin feeling clean but not dry and tight after washing. The face should be gently patted dry and left alone for 20-30 minutes before the topical drug application.

  • Use sparingly – Typically, a pea size amount of the medication is enough for whole face application. After obtaining a pea-size product from the container or tube, dab a little from this amount evenly over the face. We do not advise spot-treating acne. One should apply the product on the whole face to prevent any potential breakout.

  • Apply gently – Never rub the product into the skin. Firm rubbing of the product will lead to skin irritation.

  • Moisturizer – We do encourage the use of an oil-free moisturizer if the skin is dry from the product used. For products such as retinoid and similar vitamin A derivatives, it is typically to see some degree of flakiness and “dryness” of the skin especially in the beginning of the treatment. This type of exfoliation is actually the effect of the product, and not a side effect.

  • Every other day or less frequently – One can use the product just two to three time a week to avoid skin irritant. Once the skin is properly conditioned, the frequency can be gradually increased to daily. We do advise the patient to change the pillow case regularly to avoid excessive buildup of products on the fabric.

  • Time – No matter what prescription drugs given, topical or oral alike, it does take at least 6-8 weeks before one can decide if the treatment regimen is working or not.

  • Seek medical attention – We would not minimize the importance of over-the-counter skin care products in acne treatment, However, acne is a true medical condition. Like high blood pressure or diabetes, physician-directed prescription drugs are, more often than not, needed to get good success in treating this annoying skin disease.


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