Health

Dealing with complexion crises

Expert tips on soothing pimples, a puffy face and sunburn

How would you deal with a complexion emergency? Three dermatologists share their expertise.

They are:

  • Dr Ker Khor Jia, consultant dermatologist, National Skin Centre
  • Dr Ang Por, consultant dermatologist, Dermatology Associates
  • Dr Patricia Yuen, consultant dermatologist, Patricia Yuen Dermatology

SCENARIO #1: A SUDDEN PIMPLE

Dr Ker: No squeezing! Instead, I apply a topical anti-inflammatory agent such as benzoyl peroxide or a topical antibiotic such as clindamycin.

To play down how a zit looks, I use a non-comedogenic concealer that does not aggravate the blemish.

Dr Ang: The most important thing is not to pop the pimple and to use a topical acne-care product such as clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide.

For persistent breakouts, I would consider oral medication and/or going for blue-light therapy to help reduce the presence of acne bacteria in the skin and treat the acne.

Dr Yuen: I use my clinic's Skinsense Acne Spot Therapy.

This vitamin C-based, non-comedogenic and fragrance-free product is formulated to help reduce the redness and swelling caused by the pimple while shrinking it and helping it dry up faster.

SCENARIO #2: WAKING UP WITH A PUFFY FACE

Dr Ker: To reduce the puffiness, I wash my face with a gentle cleanser and cold water before using a mask or putting a cold towel over the face.

Dr Ang: I apply a moisturiser to soothe the skin, stay away from the sun and heat, as well as stop using all cosmetics.

If my face is itchy and puffy, I would take an antihistamine.

If the puffiness does not subside in an hour or if there is any pain, itch or peeling, you should consult a doctor.

Dr Yuen: I try to do some exercise, such as swimming and going for a run.

Once I get my metabolism going and work up a sweat, I notice that the puffiness disappears.

SCENARIO #3: GETTING SUNBURNED

Dr Ker: To speed up the skin recovery, I use a gentle cleanser and apply topical steroids to the affected area twice daily.

I also use a fragrance-free and ceramide-infused moisturiser, which I put in the fridge so it feels more comfortable on the skin when I apply it.

I will also reapply it multiple times throughout the day to soothe and hydrate the skin.

I repeat this simple skincare routine until my skin recovers.

But if the sunburn is extremely severe, a short course of prednisolone - a type of anti-inflammatory oral medication - may be needed to help the skin heal. This has to be prescribed.

At the end the day, prevention is key - I avoid excessive sun exposure and apply an SPF50 sunscreen on all exposed areas.

If I am going out into the sun, I wear a hat and appropriate clothing with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF).

Dr Ang: To soothe the pain that accompanies sunburn, I apply a generous amount of moisturiser or an aloe vera gel on the affected area.

If the burn is severe, I use a topical steroid cream as well.

I do not scratch or peel the skin as this can cause further damage.

If the skin starts to blister, you should see a doctor.

Dr Yuen: I apply a mild steroid cream, which has to be prescribed by a doctor, on the affected area for a couple of days to calm and soothe the skin.

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