How To Deal With Quarantine Acne
Find out the reasons why your skin is breaking out even more during quarantine!
In times of uncertainty such as now, breakouts, eczema flareups, dull complexions, and dry skin may be the least of our worries, because certainly, there are much more pressing matters to be concerned about amid the pandemic.
But as any serious skincare devotee would say, this doesn’t mean that the way we feel about our skin isn’t important. In fact, anyone who’s had skin issues can tell you that such problems can impact self-esteem, and it can also possibly take a huge toll on our overall well-being.
For now, let's talk about quarantine skin, and acne in particular. While most of us basically ditched makeup entirely and hiked up our skincare routine to include a bounty of face masks, it seems like for some, their face is getting patchier and drier than normal.
Even if you're staying mostly inside and laying off heavy makeup, sometimes, skin still acts up. But don't worry, you are definitely not alone. Reports of increased acne and dry skin are actually one of the most common skin issues right now, even for people who previously had their skin under control.
Apparently, during these times, there are still a lot of factors at play, even though being in quarantine has eliminated a lot of skin stressors—pollution, sun damage, and makeup. But we’re not just here to lament over our skin grievances—we consulted Dr. Anna Liza Yalung of Regenestem Manila to decode all the reasons why your skin may be breaking out and how to handle it.
Metro.Style: Why is it that some are breaking out even more during this quarantine period? What could be the factors/reasons for this?
Dr. Yalung: The COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine implemented to control it have greatly altered our normal daily routine. And I believe any event that alters our daily norm causes stress to our bodies. It has been long been known that stress is directly related to acne breakouts as it increases androgen and corticotropin-releasing hormone which stimulates oil gland activity. The isolation has also probably contributed to poor diet, lack of sleep, and less physical activity.
MS: With this, how do we rescue our skin while being at home?
Dr. Yalung: Cystic and nodular acne is ideally treated in clinics with extraction and steroid injections. While this is not possible at the moment, the use of non-prescription products containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide is recommended. Avoid picking or popping the lesions so as not to worsen them. It is important also to get adequate sleep, drink lots of water, eat a balanced diet, and do not give in to the temptation of processed or take out food, and alcohol.
MS: What active ingredients should we look for in acne treatment products and why?
Dr. Yalung: Treatment for acne makes use of medications that target the four pathologies of acne: Abnormal shedding of dead skin cells lining the oil glands resulting to a follicle plug, excessive oil production, inflammation, and infection caused by Cutibacterium (Propionibacterium) acnes.
Non-prescription medications usually include the following active ingredients:
Benzoyl Peroxide - kills bacteria that causes acne, helps unclogs pores by removing dead skin cells, helps lessen excess oil from the skin.
Salicylic Acid - removes dead skin cells, thus, unclogging the pores. Available in .5% to 5% strength over the counter
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) particularly glycolic acid and Lactic Acid in low concentration - reduces inflammation and helps remove dead skin cells. They stimulate collagen growth and helps improve the appearance of acne scars.
Sulfur - removes dead skin cells that clog the pores, helps remove excess oils. Best used in combination with other ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
Dermatologists often prescribe:
Topical retinoids (Tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene) - reduces increased build-up of skin cells, thus, preventing plugging of pores. Effective for both inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions. Recommended as first-line therapy for mild to moderate acne, and as maintenance.
Topical antibiotics - to prevent and eliminate the development of acne-causing bacteria.
Azalea acid - for inflamed acne and blackheads and whiteheads oral antibiotics - used mainly for moderate to severe acne ( cysts and nodules, numerous papulopustules).
Isotretinoin - prescription (oral) medication for severe acne (deep, painful cysts, and nodules). Treatment option used when other treatments fail to clear the skin. It is important to consult with a dermatologist prior for the use of this medication.
MS: How long do acne treatments take to work?
Dr. Yalung: Acne medications, especially topical ones, require 6-8 weeks of continued use for an improvement to be noticed. Hence, frequently changing the medication because no satisfactory results are seen after one week (or 2 weeks) of use is highly discouraged. The dermatologist may add to or replace existing medications depending on the lesions seen during follow-up evaluation of the patient.
Medications may also be altered by the dermatologist if the patient develops allergies or any hypersensitivity towards the products used. It is likewise a common finding for acne lesions to increase at the start of treatment. This should not discourage patients from continuously using the medication.
Lead photo via @intothegloss