Papulex Truthseeking : A session with Dermatologist, Dr Lim Kar Seng

Zooey Deschanel Critic

Thanks to the Papulex Lead The Way Challenge, I was given the opportunity to meet with a dermatologist, Dr Lim Kar Seng of The Dermatology Practice and ask him a few questions with regards to skin health. Now, I don’t have the fairest of skin, probably due to a fair amount of blemishes, nor do I stick to a rigorous skin regime (note: Just facial wash before and after the day), so the questions I asked were related to Nature vs. Nurture, and more importantly, skin health vs. skin beauty. Despite having blemishes, I think it’s important that our idea of beauty isn’t merely skin-deep (hurhur, pun fully intended), but we shouldn’t be none the wiser when it comes to conditions that threaten our health (like extreme obesity).

So let’s hear what the experts say:

How much of Acne is caused by Natural Circumstance vs. Lifestyle Choice? (Nature vs. Nurture>

Dr Lim mentioned that acne and blemishes were a combination of both nature and nurture. While being born with acne is probably genetic, there are many contributing factors that lead to an aggravated skin condition such as:
- Stress
- Smoking
- Foods with high Glycemic Index (GI)
- Excessive dairy products

One more thing to note is that adequate sleep is recommended for a healthy skin condition. Dr Lim recommends sleep between the hours of 11pm to 7am and lists the following reason:

Our bodies produce steroids (excess steroid production can lead to acne, hence body builders are usually affected by this) during the day and when we are awake, and peaks during 6am – 7am. However, our body’s steroid production drops between 12am – 5am, though if our body is still awake, we continue producing steroids during this lull period.

The math is pretty obvious, even if you clock in 8 hours sleep every day, depending on when you sleep, if you’re not allowing your body the proper time to rest, excess steroids can still be produced. This should explain why does of us with night-owl tendencies usually wake up with a mild outbreak if I sleep late and wake up late. I know I do.

Treatment of acne
There are probably two standard treatments for acne, they are (1) Topical treatment and (2) Oral treatment.

Sometimes, antibiotics are used in the treatment of severe acne so as to combat the body’s excessive production of steroids. Dr Lim also says that there is a misconception about antibiotic resistance, and that in acne treatment that does not occur.

One thing of note is that longer-term acne treatment might benefit from non-antibiotic treatment so that the body is not too reliant on antibiotics.

Healthy Skin
A medical practitioner’s definition of healthy skin is realistic. It’s not the magazine spreads you see in the media every day, nor is there a “scale of beauty”. These concepts merely exist in our perception of the world.

Finally I asked Dr Lim, what then is considered an unhealthy skin condition, and the following were listed:
- Redness
- Scaling
- Flaking
- Boils (These might indicate a deeper acne issue)

So there you go. My session with a dermatologist has been rather helpful in understanding skin conditions a little better. I come from a camp where I don’t equate flawless skin to beauty, but that we should take care of our skin more for health reasons.

The regular sleep cycle is probably the lifestyle-choice that I’ll have the most difficulty with, but I think it’s advisable from both a dermatological standpoint as well as a healthy lifestyle.

All in all, I hope this has been pretty helpful in understanding your skin a little better, and what approach you could seek if you do suffer from severe acne, or even a mild one.