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.
- 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.