Teenagers are often fooled into thinking pimples will miraculously disappear when they’re old enough to pass their driving test. Not true: many of us find spotty chins a grim reality well into our thirties. Whiteheads and blackheads become a particular problem during Dubai’s sweltering summers, so we spoke to Dr Maria Anglo Khattar, a research scientist from Dubai’s Aesthetica Clinic and fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine in the UK, to find out why we get spots and how to stop them.
What causes pimples? ‘Although people often believe that sweet foods are a contributing factor, there is no direct proof of this, although there is evidence that dairy products such as milk help to trigger the condition. Acne is caused by over-activity of the sebaceous glands, which become enlarged and produce more sebum (oil). This sebum, which normally drains to the surface, blocks the pores and bacteria begin to grow, causing pustules.’
Why are they worse in summer? ‘In the heat, sebum production in acne-prone individuals increases. Sweating, dust and heat all contribute to blocked pores, leading to the growth of bacteria and the development of acne.’
How to combat them ‘Acne is a chronic condition for which there is no definitive cure,’ explains Dr Khattar. ‘It’s a matter of control and maintenance.’ Her top tips for combating pimples are: • ‘A diligent cleansing routine in the morning and evening. However, over-cleansing will cause over-stimulation, so take care’
• ‘Taking vitamin C can help to reduce proliferation of the bacteria that cause acne.’
• ‘Take an antibiotic as prescribed by your doctor.’
• ‘Use derma-cosmetic products with alpha hydroxy and retinoic acids. These exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells and therefore reducing blockage.’
• ‘Taking zinc supplements discourages acne-producing bacteria and decreases production of sebum from sebaceous glands.’
The treatment to try Dr Khattar recommends Isolaz, the only FDA-approved acne treatment, which combines a vacuum with broadband light to destroy acne-causing bacteria. ‘During treatment, the vacuum activation gently opens up and elevates the sebaceous gland to bring it closer to the skin’s surface. Next, the vacuum brings impurities to the surface, resulting in a complete cleansing of the pores. Finally, a gentle painless light is emitted that helps destroy acne-causing bacteria. Patients who undergo treatments commonly report a visible improvement – reduction in redness and a flattening of the lesion – within 24 to 48 hours.’ She recommends an initial course of four to five treatments. A 90-minute Isolaz session is Dhs750. Aesthetica Clinic, various locations, www.aestheticaclinic.com.
Sudocrem It’s technically nappy-rash cream, but this miracle cure-all will soothe inflammation and redness in pimples. Dhs12.50-Dhs26.50, available at most good pharmacies
Tea Tree Oil This all-natural ointment has powerful antibacterial qualities. Dab a tiny bit on before bedtime and you’ll wake up with a less ferocious pimple. Dhs33, available at The Body Shop, The Dubai Mall (04 339 9276)
Dermalogica Clearing Mattifier This anhydrous lotion (meaning it doesn’t contain water) absorbs excess oil: the perfect solution for oily shine. Dhs189, available at most good pharmacies
Dr Oseela Abdul Kader from Dubai’s Breath & Health Clinic explains the ancient Indian philosophy on pimples.
What causes acne? ‘In ayurveda, acne is called ‘yavanapidika’ (disease of adolescence), the papules resembling the sprout on the bark of the Shalmali tree. Ayurveda approaches acne based on the basic principle of dosas (three different elements in the body that need to be balanced for good health). The excess of pitta – the fire dosha – combined with toxins in the blood is a major cause.’
Treatment? • ‘Special diet plans must be adhered to, such as avoiding spicy, oily foods, junk food, chocolate, tea, coffee and carbonated drinks, as well as eating lots of vegetables to reduce the excess pitta (fire) in the body.’
• ‘Make a paste of chandana (sandalwood) and hardira (turmeric) and apply to your face.’
• ‘The paste of masurdal (lentils) with yoghurt and a few drops of neem oil will also help.’
• ‘Squash a soft papaya in water. Massage your face with the paste, which will dry after about 15 minutes. Then rinse your face and wipe it with a rough towel, before applying sesame or coconut oil. Doing this daily for a week will help to remove pimples and their residual marks. The face will also feel more moisturised.’
• ‘Also, try rubbing the face with orange peel or buttermilk.’ Contact Dr Oseela at Breath & Health, Al Wasl Road, www.breathandhealth.net (04 348 9940).