Being a tropical country, Malaysia receives a healthy amount of sunlight throughout the year. Consequently, there is bound to be a lot humidity followed by sweating and skin oiliness, even during the night. So it is not entirely surprising for us to know that acnes and scars are actually very common amongst many Malaysians, regardless of age or race.
Of course, the tropical climate is not the only factor behind acnes, breakouts or pimples. Acne affects people from all around the globe, across various continents with various climates, across all age groups. In some countries, acne is even acknowledged as the most common skin condition or problem.
Before we could address the problems associated with acne and thereafter scars, do you know what an acne actually is?
An acne occurs when the small pores on the surface of the skin become blocked with oil, dead skin cells, or even bacteria. Beneath each pore, there lies a singular hair and a sebaceous gland. The sebaceous gland produces sebum, an oil designed to keep your skin lubricated and soft. When the gland produces excess of sebum, which could be caused by various reasons from environmental to hormonal, the oil will be pumped through the follicle, picking up dead skin cells and bacteria along the way out. When all of these clump together, a plug forms which then turns into an infection. The body then responds with an accumulation of red and white blood cells to fight against the infection, resulting in redness and inflammation we commonly call acne, pimple or breakouts.
Acne, in the process of recovery and healing, then leads to unwanted scars. Many of us know that acne is usually a temporary problem, but acne scars however could be permanent if not treated well. There are many types of acne scars, but typically, when an acne forms, a break in the follicle wall occurs. If the rupture occurs near the skin's surface, the lesion is usually minor and heals quickly. More serious lesions occur when there is a deep break in the follicle wall. The infected material spills out into the dermis and destroys healthy skin tissue as well. In the process of repairing the damage to the dermis, the skin forms new collagen fibres, however, such repair would never result in a look as smooth as it was before the acne came about.
Having seen how an acne occurs and how an acne leads to a scar, let’s look at how we could prevent both from happening. The most common Acne Vulgaris aside, which is caused by hormonal changes in the body onset usually in teenage years when puberty hits, an acne could actually be prevented.
As we highlighted earlier, the Malaysian weather could be one of the reasons. Further, Malaysian food, lifestyle, and pollution worsen the situation for many of us alike.
Let’s start with the weather. The hot and humid weather would generally cause excess oil to be produced by your glands. Without proper cleansing and facial regimes, there is an increased likelihood of more plugs appearing within your skin pores thereby leading to acne breakouts.
Then there’s food. Malaysia is a food haven, as we all know it. But most of our foods here are fairly unhealthy – fried, carbohydrate-rich or sugary foodstuffs. Healthy foods such as sandwiches or grains are, at most times, luxury and do not form part of our daily meals or snacks. All these unhealthy fried, carbohydrate-rich or sugary foodstuffs increase the likelihood of having inflamed glands and pores.
Malaysian lifestyle could be another contributing factor. Generally, Asians work and study very hard, and Malaysians are no exception. With improper meal timings and lack of sleep, coupled with stress levels at school or work, there is definitely more likelihood of getting acne breakouts every now and then for adults who could not be affected by the Acne Vulgaris.
Last but not least, there is the pollution. Malaysia may not be a heavily polluted country, but our city atmosphere is fairly contaminated nevertheless. The fumes and smoke from vehicles add up to construction debris that float around perpetually in the air. With humid weather that makes us sweat more, all these dirt lying around will stick to our skin and clog up our pores more easily, also making it more likely for us to get acne breakouts.
All said and done, we know that prevention is better than cure, evidently. However, if any of the above factors could not be avoided, at least we could try minimizing the risks, for instance, cutting down on unhealthy foods and cleaning our skin every time we get home after prolonged exposure to the polluted air outside. There are plenty of post-acne scar treatments available, but in the end, would you rather spend a little on facial care products or more on laser treatment later to remove the scars?