Get those Acnes off My Face! ~ Learn about what you can do to your lifestyle to reduce acnes

Aug 02, 12 Get those Acnes off My Face! ~ Learn about what you can do to your lifestyle to reduce acnes

Acne is a very common problem in the society. It is no longer acceptable to regard this as part of ‘growing up’ and we can certainly do something about it to reduce or to cure acnes. Taking medication aside, what can we do to reduce the severity of acne?

Diet and Acne

One common question that my patients often ask me; What are the foods that aggravate acne? There are lots of myths and believes in the society but few were proven scientifically true. Yes, chocolates may aggravate acne but what is in these chocolates that aggravates acne? Studies had found that diary products are associated with more severe acne. Hence, it is advisable to avoid milk chocolates and other diary products. Most chocolates in the market contains milk even if it is not branded or marketed as ‘milk chocolate’. Therefore, always check the ingredients before buying them if you are suffering from acne.

‘High glycaemic index’ foods are also proven to be associated with more severe acne. These foods cause a surge in your blood sugar right after taking them. This list of foods includes white bread, corn flakes, glucose, maltose, white potatoes and pretzels. Maltose is sweetener that is often used in confectionary.

Skin Care and Acne

While certain skin care may help to reduce acne, others can aggravate it. Skin cares or cosmetics may contain ingredients that block pores and cause black or white heads. These are termed as ‘comedogenic’ ingredients. The resultant black and white heads may propagate or be the cause of an acne eruption. Common comedogenic ingredients to look-out for are:

  • Acetylated Lanolin
  • Butyl Stearate
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • D&C Red Colors
  • Isopropyl Myristate
  • Isopropyl Palmitate
  • Laureth 4
  • Lauric Acid
  • Linseed Oil
  • Mineral Oil
  • Octyl Palmitate
  • Octyl Stearate
  • Oleth-3

The easiest way to ensure that the skin care or cosmetics that you are buying do not contain these is to buy products with ‘non-comedogenic’ label.

On top of this, i had encountered several patients who developed severe acne eruption due to allergy after using a certain very well known skin care product. Unfortunately, it is not easy to predict who may develop these allergy before trying the product. Hence, always watch out for any allergy reaction or acne eruption whenever you try out a new product. Of note, the reactions may be as delayed as 3 months from when you have started using the product.

Stress and Acne

Stress is a major factor for acne eruptions. Among students, exams are often the reason for acne eruption or aggravation. For adults, stress at work can results in  more acne. Therefore, de-stress may be the answer to some sufferers. A visit to the spa, reflexology or a short relaxing holiday may be enough to calm down the condition.

Hormones and Acne

Yes, premenstrual or menstrual acnes are common. Almost all girls had experienced some aggravation of acne just before or during menstruation. In fact, some girls only have eruptions around their menstruation.

Hormonal disturbances that results in irregular menstruation can also be the cause of acne. In fact, for this group of patient, treatment to regulate this will be the first step to treat their acne.

Friction and Acne

Do you have the habit of putting your hands on your chin or touching certain parts of your face? The resultant friction may be the cause of acne being more severe at the site where you touch your face most. Have a look at where your hair-ends are. Could these be the reason to constant friction causing more acne at these areas ? I had also seen some Malay patients who wears ‘tudung’ who has acnes only around the area where their ‘tudung‘ touches their skin. Simple measures of changing the style of the ‘tudung’ does the trick instead of fancy creams and medications.

Medication and Acne

Some medications may cause acne. A common example will be the short course of steroids that are often needed to curb asthmatic attacks. Apart from steroids, common medications that may be responsible includes lithium, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, androgenic steroids, DHEA, and medications that contain bromides or iodides. Check with your physician if you suspect that the medication that you are currently taking may be the cause of your acne woes.

Supplements and traditional medicine may also contains ingredients that may cause acne. When acne aggravation happens within 3 months from the start of any supplements or traditional medicine, you may want to try to stop there for 2 months to test if stopping does make a difference to your condition.

Some steroid containing creams may also cause a localised acne eruption over the areas where you apply the cream. In this condition, stop the cream and the acne will resolve on its own.


There are lots of things that you can do to make a difference to your acne woes especially if your condition is not severe. Simple measures that you can do to your lifestyle may be all that is needed to get those acne off your face. However, when your acne is severe, it is advisable to seek medical advice. Remember, you do not have to live and accept acne as part of your life.


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