Common facial skin problem – The Male version

Nov 06, 13 Common facial skin problem – The Male version

Self-care does not restrict to only females. Our male counterparts also deserve some attention to this issue. There are some skin problems that are more prevalent among males and some issues tends to be more significant in them. In this issue, we’ll have a look at some of the common facial skin problems among men.

Oily skin

For some reason, there are more men presenting to my clinic with oily skin. This can be a standalone problem or coupled with acne. There are evidences to show that the oily part of the skin is associated with more inflamed lesion of acne; namely those that are red and with pus. Treatment of acne is covered in another separate write-up and we’ll not touch on this in this issue.

Treatment of oily skin can be done in various ways. Topically, vitamin A derived creams/gels such as tretinoin and adapalene can reduce oil production on the skin. Tretinoin is to be applied at night as the compound is deactivated with light. On the other hand, adapalene does not have this restriction can it can be used up to twice a day.

Selection of moisturiser also plays a big role. Avoid ointment and creams as moisturiser as these may worsen the condition. Gel or lotion based moisturiser will be a more appropriate option.

When the condition is more severe, chemical peeling may also aid to reduce oil production. In particular, salicylic acid peel will be most suitable for this purpose. However, other chemical peels may also be able to help in oil reduction.


One main difference between male and female is the abundance of facial hair; i.e. moustache, side-burns etc. With the abundance of hair, men can be more prone for inflammation of the hair follicles, namely folliculitis. This can be aggravated by occlusive shaving creams or skincare. The method of shaving may also contributes towards this condition. Some tips on hair removal/shaving are found on another section of this blog.

To treat folliculitis, it is most important to identify aggravating factors and to remove them. For mild cases, antibiotics cream can reduce the severity of folliculitis. When more severe, doctors may need to prescribe antibiotics for a certain period of time to reduce the inflammation. Sometimes, hair removal treatment may be needed to reduce its occurrence.

Dull complexion

Men also want to have a brighter complexion. Quite a number of my male patients came with this complaint. Dull complexion makes one look tired and ‘hagged’. The main reason to this is the accumulation and thickening of the ‘dead skin’ layer of the skin, namely stratum corneum.

Infrequent scrubbing of the face can reduce this. For more severe cases, microdermabrasion and light chemical peeling can do the trick. Microdermabrasion removes this ‘dead skin’ layer without much of down-time. Immediately after the procedure, one can see that the skin is brightened up. Light chemical peeling can do the same. Depending on the depth of the peel, the effect can be better or similar. However, chemical peel may be accompanied by its downtime; namely redness and light flaking of the skin.

Acne scars

This is another common presentation in my clinic. In the past, many people treat acne as part of ‘growing-up’ and do not seek treatment for this condition. While acne is transitional in most of the cases, the resultant acne scars are very often permanent. Pigmentary scars are transitional and can be lightened faster using creams, microdermabrasion, chemical peeling, light and laser therapy.

Protuberant scars such as keloid and hypertrophic scars bulge out from the skin. Hypertrophic scars can resolve on its on but keloid may stay or even gets bigger with time. Keloid treatments are discussed here.

For indented scars (scars that cause skin depression), treatments can be more challenging. Mild cases may be improved with chemical peeling and microdermabrasion. Very often, laser therapy such as fractional CO2 or erbium yag laser is needed to improve the condition. In some cases, acid treatment and surgery may be needed for significant improvement.


What other male skin conditions interest you? You may want to leave your comment below and I will discuss about it in the following issue…


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