Hear It From an Expert: Acne Chat with Dr. Jenny Liu

We noticed that when it comes to acne, there are facts that are either unquestioned or seem to be "common knowledge" but are actually untrue. Hero Cosmetics called Dr. Jenny Liu, a dermatologist in Minneapolis, to receive some expertise and scientifically-backed information on acne and hydrocolloid patches. 

What are some myths about acne? 

Acne actually is not caused by "dirtiness" or "uncleanliness" and despite popular belief, there is no cure that can permanently treat acne. Patients sometimes expect quick treatments and solutions but the process takes a while. Although it can get better, it will never 100% go away. Also, eating sugary or processed foods and dairy are correlations, not causations. Having a better diet doesn't necessarily mean you will have clearer skin--it's just better for the body and overall maintenance. Every little life-modification can be a big help.

Besides genetics, what do you think is the main source of acne breakouts?

Some people are more genetically predisposed to acne, causing more inflammation. There is no single source of acne breakouts but I have noticed in my own practice that acne among adult women is more recognized and prevalent than among teenage girls. Nearly 30 to 40% of adults get acne and it has been documented that women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and even 60s are getting acne. This may have always been the case, but adult acne was not addressed as frequently, even when I first started my training. My speculation is that high cystic ovarian disease, obesity, and the use of contraceptives at an earlier age have tampered hormones and caused more adult acne. These are more trends rather than direct causes. However, overall acne affects everyone regardless of gender or age.

Can you explain the difference between blackheads and whiteheads and some treatments to prevent both? 

Blackheads and whiteheads are medically called comedones. These are clogged pores, which is the start to forming acne, which then causes inflammation. Open comedones are blackheads while closed comedones are whiteheads. The lipids inside whiteheads get activated by air, which then turns them black. Physical extractions (which can be painful), adapoline, or tretinonin can help with preventing both.  

What were your initial thoughts on using hydrocolloid acne patches as an acne treatment and were you surprised about anything after using them?

It's an interesting idea! Hydrocolloid is more commonly used for healing wounds, but it can work well for acne as well because of the mechanism of how it works. It is a neat idea but will work well for individual pimples instead of as a treatment. Putting patches all over your face won't prevent acne but it will keep bacteria away from the area. 

Why and how do hydrocolloid patches work and what kinds of pimples do they work on? Will they work on blackheads and sebum?

Acne patches are ideal for inflammatory pimples. The patches will create autolytic enzymes [enzymes that digest the cell in which it is produced, which is a kind of self-healing process] that will reduce swelling. So patches overall do not replace standard treatment, but they are a great supplement to inflammation. Hydrocolloid would not work for blackheads and sebum because it does not exfoliate, so it would not unclog the pores.

Overall, can you give us a brief statement of your thoughts on Mighty Patch?

It is a neat idea! I am also pregnant right now, and pregnant women are limited in the products they can use. This is a safe product for pregnant women and I also like how it is a kind of concealer. It is skin-colored and can cover acne. It is also quite an ingenious way to create an autolytic environment to fight inflammation and swelling. Mighty Patch is a great supplement to acne  treatment and is especially great for treating individual pimples. 

 

Thank you Dr. Jenny Liu for the insight! Leave us any questions or comments below.

 

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