By Dr Smriti Naswa Singh,
Consultant Dermatologist & Cosmetic Dermatologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund
Acne or Pimples are a common occurrence in teenage, and early adult life and with the increase in hormonal issues, due to lifestyle progression; they are now very often being seen in middle age group post 30-40 years as well. Acne are a cause of concern for everyone; teenage is when body image develops and teenagers tend to get really upset with pimples on their faces. Likewise, good clean clear facial skin is very important for boosting the confidence of working professionals, students and homemakers alike. The psychological impact of looking good and presentable during an interview, a presentation, a meeting, or for matrimonial prospects, is tremendous. This leads to people (men and women alike) trying all sorts of remedies and DIY stuff to treat their acne.
Certain common household or DIY remedies which can prove wrong or hazardous, these should be avoided altogether or discussed with your Dermatologist before commencing. It is important to understand if any of these acne home remedies actually work? Some may work, in the right cases, but most times they are ineffective. A few of these ‘trusted’ home remedies can downright damage your skin.
TOOTHPASTE APPLICATION: I remember the case of my patient, who had her engagement in 10days, when a pimple popped out above her lips. She believed that the central face lesion just below her nose made her look “ugly”, and she wanted to get rid of it. She applied toothpaste on her pimple and her skin got burned! What happened was, certain ingredients in toothpaste triggered Irritant Contact Dermatitis, with redness & inflammation, itching & pain, later leaving a mark. She contacted me and with appropriate treatment of the Dermatitis, we could heal the lesion and make her presentable enough for her upcoming function. The lesion cleared up within a few follow ups. So, applying toothpaste on pimples is a big NO NO!
GLUE (WITH OR WITHOUT CHARCOAL) TO TREAT BLACKHEADS: Glue available in our local markets is Cyanoacrylate Glue. If you recollect, we all used glue in our art and craft classes, if it got stuck to our fingers, it would be peeled off the skin. This unwanted effect of glue has been promoted and used as a DIY remedy for blackhead removal purposes. My patients are my teachers, they keep teaching me different things that people try to look beautiful. A young college-going boy used to hate the small, black hair popping-up on his nose; he asked his sister. who suggested him to use the glue. He applied the glue to the ‘affected area’, when it dried out, he peeled it off and blackheads were pulled out. He was happy and continued to this every few days until after 2-3 weeks, he started feeling burning sensation and even wiping with hankie made him cry. What happened was, he had overzealously peeled off the top layers of skin without giving them time to recover/rejuvenate. The skin kept getting thin and ended up becoming sensitive; this finally led to Acute Dermatitis, and lot of visible peeling continued. Lots of moisturizers, medicated creams and resting period of 15-20 days helped him feel better.
There are two problems with this DIY glue hack. One-mostly, these so called blackheads are not really blackheads (or Acne grade 1 ‘open Comedones;’) but a small bunch of Vellus Hair coming out through pores. Treatment for this go in line with hair removal options for sustainable results. Two-this glue is not dermatologically approved, hence it has many ingredients which can irritate the skin. Importantly, the sheer harshness with which it pulled the skin, ends up making our skin inflamed and red. Therefore, glue should be used on craft paper and not on skin, unless one wants a papery thin sensitive skin!
CHOONA (LIMESTONE) – Choona is often used in Paan (Betel leaf) in India. The consumption of choona is hazardous to health; so is its application on the skin. Choona is not going to whiten the skin or make that ugly zit go, it is only going to damage your skin by leaving a big chemical induced scar. And remember, scars can only be revised, never removed! They can be made to look better, subtler, but they never go. The treatment of a single pimple is very easy and might need only few days to go; so trying all kinds of remedies at home is not a good idea. Limestone walls look beautiful, let it be used where it is supposed to be used.
CERTAIN PREPARATIONS (LOTIONS/CREAMS) CLAIMING TO BE SINGLE, SURE SHOT TREATMENT FOR DAAD, KHAAJ, KHUJLI, KEEL & MUHAASE: Whenever you come across creams which claim to treat pimples/ all kinds of itching/ Eczema/ Fungal Infections, remember that this is a red signal to stay away from them. All the above mentioned conditions are different, their causes are different, and thence the treatment would be different. There is no “one magical medicine” (cream in this case) to rid oneself of all kinds of skin related issues.
HYDROGEN PEROXIDE – Hydrogen Peroxide is a commonly used agent for bleaching face or in Pedicure & Manicure. Some people vouch for its anti-acne properties and surfing on internet, it commonly comes up as DIY pimple treatment. Diluted Hydrogen Peroxide works as antiseptic, used by doctors to clean wounds. This might have been the origin of people recommending it to treat acne (thinking it can kill acne bacteria). However, Hydrogen Peroxide is an oxidizing agent, which means it can kill the acne bacteria as well as healthy skin cells! This also means it can kill the ability of skin to heal (fibroblasts). So if one applies Hydrogen Peroxide (that too at 3% strength, which is easily available in markets) they are likely to irritate the skin, making it red. One may also experience burning sensation, reduced healing strength of the weakened skin, can lead to big horrible scars. So better to keep off this lotion and let it be used by professionals for salon purposes.