It was fine day at my clinic and in came a patient, depressed and almost on the brink of tears.
Me: So, what's the problem?
Patient: Can't you see?
I could see! But 'assuming' or even 'guessing' the patients problem has put me in such embarrassing positions (I guess acne and the patients says, no! Itching in the groin!) that I ask the patient to spell out the problem for me at the expense of getting a ' how dumb are you!' look.
Me: Okay... so it's your face...
Patients: I hate these pimples! I have tried everything and they just don't go away!
Now, whenever a patient says, 'I have tried everything', they literally have tried everything! It's alarm bells ringing in my head and in my assistants head at the same time! Patients have gone to the extent of getting a TCA peel from a beautician! FYI, even dermatologists think twice before using a TCA peel. So you could imagine the damage (permanent at times) that I have seen in patients who have 'been there and done that'.
This case wasn't as bad. But it wasn't good either.
Me: So what have you done?
Patient: I have used Multani Mitti, Besan ka Atta, Garlic and yesterday I used Toothpaste (I cannot disclose the brand!) and now look... it’s all burnt.
Me: Yes, I can see that. But tell me (and this is my favourite question of them all), did you go see a dermatologist?
Patient: (deafening silence)... no... umm, but I did go to a beauty parlour ...
Me: (And when I hear the word beauty parlour I stop listening and start writing the prescription).
So far, it had been a fine day for me. Then, it turned into a routine day at my clinic. Different patient, but the same conversation.
There are so many ‘expert websites’, which give so many ‘home remedies’ and so many ‘quick fix solutions’, not to forget all those celebrities endorsing ‘skin care in a jiffy creams’, to treat acne that it is turning into quite a serious affair for us dermatologists to handle.
So here is what you should not do if you have pimples:
1. Use Home Remedies
Using of Besan Atta scrubs, Multani Mitti packs, Milk mixed with Turmeric powder packs, Sandalwood packs etc won’t be a very smart move on your part. All these make the skin temporarily dry but in the long run they end up irritating your skin and thence causing further damage, even scars (which are permanent).
2. Using Fresh fruit extracts
Papaya or tomatoes used raw on the face can cause the pH balance of the skin to go awry and cause irritation.
3. Using Toothpaste
Using toothpaste (any brand for Pete’s sake) is not a quick fix solution no matter what any expert website says! If it were so simple, wouldn’t we just tell people to use their toothpaste (not only to brush their teeth) but as a skin care product! Complete paisa vasool na? But unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. And fortunately you have a dermatologist that you can go to for pimple treatment advise.
4. Visit a beauty parlour
Black head removal is not a ‘simple routine’ procedure. Only an expert eye can know which black heads to pop and which not to! Yes, there are instances where you should just leave them alone and the let the dermatologist prescribed creams clean ‘em out! Unnecessary popping can actually aggravate acne and cause scarring too. Also, getting chemical peels done at a parlour is a big no – no! Only a trained dermatologist knows what peels are safe and what peels will be effective. Remember, there is a big difference between a beautician and a dermatologist!
5. Using creams suggested by your ‘expert’ friend
Please understand that no matter how much you love and believe your friend, they aren’t skin care experts! They might have the best skin in the world but that is because it probably runs in their genes or they might be also visiting a dermatologist for all you know! The creams they use need not necessarily suit your skin type. Every skin is unique. So is yours. Do not share creams at all. Especially fairness creams and steroid creams (Betamethasone/Mometasone/Fluticasone/Hydrocortisone based creams). I have seen so many patients come to me stating that the pimples started after they had started using these creams! So if you are currently using any such creams (you can check the ingredients section) please latch them on to a rocket and send them off to Mars.
6. Assume all 'Skin Care Clinics' are certified dermatologist run clinics
Just because a clinic or even a person claims to be a dermtologist doesn't make it authentic. Verify the places or the persons credentials. To know more you could check here.
Pimples or Acne vulgaris, as we call it in medical terms, is a ‘disease’ of the sebaceous glands of the skin. So what do we do when we hear the word disease? Yes, we go to a doctor. And since we have specialists from every field of science, so do we have Skin Specialists. So don’t waste time doing what you shouldn’t do... use it wisely and do what you should do! Hand over your pimples and worries to your dermatologist!