Fashion and Beauty

Dr. Vicki Belo answers your questions about acne

CRAZY QUILT - Tanya T. Lara - The Philippine Star

It’s hard to imagine that Dr. Vicki Belo, the doctor of celebrities and stars, was once too shy to go to social events and didn’t like having her picture taken. Or that she was very conscious of being stared at and thinking she was different. Given her bubbly personality, you’d think that even as a teenager she was already outgoing and extroverted.

But like all teenagers struggling at dealing with all the changes in one’s body, Vicki was self-conscious — even more so because she was suffering from acne problems starting at 11 and got teased a lot for it. And that even as an adult, her acne problem wouldn’t go away.

“I went to many different dermatologists who would have their nurses prick my pimples,” Dr. Vicki Belo says. “They would give me minocin or dalacin and make me apply benzoyl peroxide and testinoin. But it didn’t really treat it well.”

That failure of her dermatologists to treat her acne actually made her want to become a dermatologist herself.

“I would hear people say, ‘Ay, she’s pretty kaso she has such bad skin,” so I said to myself I’m going cure my own acne.”

One of her first celebrity clients — her clinic was open only two weeks — was singer Regine Velasquez. “Regine came to me when she was 19 years old. At that time, I was introducing a new medicine called glycolic acid which helps in exfoliation. Her back was not oily but she had acne. The glycolic acid help clear out her acne. She got high frequency to tighten pores and Spanish peel.”

Vicki says that she still got breakouts from time to time until two years ago “because I discovered a new treatment. It’s still a secret but we’ll be the first to introduce it soon. I think I am a specialist in acne, fat and anti-aging because these are the things that were also my problem.”

Here are some things you’ve always wanted to know about acne — and no, chocolate doesn’t cause acne.

What causes acne and at what age does it commonly occur?

Acne is caused by four different things. The most common is hormonal. That’s why it starts to appear when a woman starts getting her period or when a man starts having a change in voice —  a deeper voice. Of course, it is also oiliness that’s inherited from parents. Third is the change of skin. When you’re young, you’re skin cell turnover is faster and your skin is always smooth and silky. As you get older, your skin turnover is slower, that’s why there is accumulation of dead skin cells. It also gets to be sticky because of oil and oil is food for bacteria. The more oil there is, the more bacteria grows. That is why the number one thing you address when you have acne is oiliness. But you also have to give tretinoin and/or glycolic acid for better exfoliation.

Why is it that some adults still get breakouts more than others?

It starts with hormones. Seventy percent of our patients that have acne are teenagers where hormones spike. When they reach the age of 19, 20, 21, usually acne disappears. Unfortunately, 30 percent of teenagers who get acne continue to have acne even as adults — that includes me. As an adult, I still keep getting pimples.

What treatments did you do then — why or why didn't they work? Can acne be cured?

Before, when I go to a dermatologist they would just prick it, give you dalacin, astringent, antibiotic and tretinoin or benzoyl peroxide. However, it would recur and recur, there was no cure. Fortunately along the way, roaccutane was invented; however, it had so many side effects. So I kept on searching not antibiotic, not hormonal but…abangan ang susunod na kabanata (smiles).

You finally controlled your acne at 35 — that's more than 20 years of having it since. How did it affect your social life and confidence at different stages when you were growing up?

Yes, I was able to control my acne. However, the moment I miss a cleaning at Belo I start getting breakouts.

What skin condition or things predispose one to get acne?

Chocolate does not cause acne. A lot of junk food does cause acne. Hormonal pills, emotional tension, stress, lack of sleep which causes hormonal imbalance that can lead to acne.

What are Belo's procedures to treat acne?

We have a comprehensive Belo Acne Program. Since no skin is the same, our acne treatment is customized to the skin condition and needs of the patient. From products like Belo Acne Kit, ZO Zero Blemish kit, facials (glycopeel), peels (ZO 3 Step peel, Depth peel, Spanish peel), light therapy (LED) and lasers, we combine all these to address acne and acne scars. You may not believe it but more than just the acne condition, what affects people most is its psychological impact on a person’s self-esteem.

What can teenagers and adults do to prevent acne?

First of all, always have clean hands. Stop pinching your face and pricking your pimples because there is a right angle and a proper way to prick. No. 2, sleep early. No. 3, avoid junk foods. Also, be careful with what hair products you use because whatever you use goes down and can cause irritation and acne. Avoid putting your hair down your face.

What are the myths about acne that we should set straight for people?

Chocolate does not directly cause acne. It is dairy and sugar that can cause acne. Before, there was a study that found out diet has nothing to do with acne when in fact recent studies show it does. If you want to enjoy chocolate, eat one with higher cocoa content like 70 percent.

So how does diet affect acne? Foods with high glycemic index can cause a spike in blood cortisol which can worsen acne.

Toothpaste is not a substitute to dry up acne. Toothpaste may contain substances that can help dry pimples, but it's not made for your skin, so it can cause irritation and rashes and can actually worsen acne.

Exposing yourself to the sun does not make acne better. It may have some anti-inflammatory effects. However, it causes more damage than you may think. Over time, the sun destroys collagen which supports the skin, leaving your pores open — making it susceptible to blackheads and other impurities. And since the sun damages your skin as well, it makes you even more prone to acne scars.





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