Almost all people during adolescent stage of 12 to 17 years of age have atleast at some point experienced some kind of skin problem, and the most common one being acne, which is a skin condition that includes either the outburst of pimples or deeper nodule like lumps or blackheads and whiteheads resulting from plugged pores.
Most of the times, the off-the-shelf treatment for acne available in the retail stores are enough to control these skin problems, but for some people, this becomes a more serious problem as these simple medications from the shop don’t really work much, also some people get rid of the problem with the passing of the adolescent stage but some people continue to suffer from the problem well beyond adolescence and into their late twenties or early thirties. In such cases, a visit to the dermatologist becomes a mandate.
While the root cause of such problems could be internal, like hormonal imbalance and so on which require proper medication in order to stop the further outburst of acne, but apart from the internal treatment, there’s something that needs to be done to overcome the damage that has already been done on the exterior, that is the pimples and their scars. Many people overcome the problem of acne outbursts with age but still the hideous marks left by them on the face becomes a real bother. It can cause a person to have low self-esteem as the person lacks confidence in his/her capability to look good.
Of all kinds of treatment available for treating acne externally and also the scars left by them, chemical peeling is the latest in trend and is quite in vogue. In fact, most dermatologists are nowadays prescribing chemical peeling for treating acne and acne scars, apart from the medication (if required). The reason being very simple, that it is very effective, doesn’t have many side effects and it does not drain your pocket as it is quite reasonable.
Chemical peeling, its medical name being chemexfoliation, is also known as derma peeling. It is a technique used to rapidly exfoliate the skin and in the process the dead skin cells are easily shed resulting in an improved appearance of the skin. In this treatment, a chemical solution mild enough for skin is applied to the skin, causing the skin to blister and then peel off. The new skin underneath is free of all the scars, blemishes and other imperfections and thus it glows.
There are generally three types of peels used for acne treatment; mild peels like alphahydroxy acid (AHA) peels and betahydroxy (BHA) acid peels, which include glycolic peel, salicylic peel & lactic acid peel; medium peeks like trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels and deeper peels like phenol peels such as carbolic acid peel.
AHA & BHA Peels
These peels are the mildest of all as they are the most superficial of all peels. They are so mild that you can actually go and get one treatment done during your lunch break, because they have no downtime. However, a sunscreen is a must if you are going during lunch time. These peels are suitable for superficial acne and mild acne scars.
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They stimulate collagen production, refine pores on the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. The most commonly used AHA peel is Glycolic peel, which is derived from sugarcane. Also Salicylic acid peels, a BHA peel works more or less in the same manner as Glycolic peels.
They help in reducing acne and acne scars. Lactic acid peel is used for acne scars only (without acne). Such mild peel treatments are also given at Day Spas and Salons, and not only at the dermatologist’s clinic. In fact, there are home use kits also for AHA peels available in the market. But it is always advisable to get it done under professional supervision. Sometimes in salons or spas, they also include a facial and cooling mask along with the treatment, which gives a much relaxed feel.
TCA Peels & Phenol Peels
If the acne scars are deeper, or if you have cystic acne, then a stronger peel like a TCA or phenol based peel is required, as a deeper acne problem requires deeper penetration on the skin, and because these peels are stronger than AHAs therefore they penetrate into deeper layers of the skin to diminish acne scars.
But these peels have a longer recovery period as compared to the AHAs and cause greater sensitivity to the sun. So in case you go for these peels, then you have to make sure that you don’t have any work that requires you to go out in the sun for long periods during your recovery phase.
What to expect during a peel treatment
First the skin is thoroughly cleansed and dried, then the peel, which has a generally thin water-like consistency, is applied using a small brush, or cotton swab. the moment this peel is applied, one feels a warm stinging or mild burning sensation, if the sensation is very severe then the process should be stopped immediately. This happens if the skin is very sensitive to the product, however, normally, a patch test is done a week before the actual treatment starts so such a dire situation is not likely to surface. Next, the peel is allowed to dry, normally for 10 minutes, or for whatever time the doctor feels is required. Then the peel is removed using cool water and a neutralizing agent. Then the skin is dried and your peel session is complete. But if you have a facial incorporated in your treatment package then your peel will be followed by a cooling mask, massage, toning and moisturising.
Possible Side Effects
After a peel, the skin normally looks sunburned and the redness lasts for a few hours to a few days, and in case of deeper peels, even a month or two. This is the recovery phase and during this phase one should religiously use sunscreen with high SPF and avoid the sun as much as possible. If this fact is neglected, then it can lead to hyperpigmentation or uneven skin tones. Also during the recovery phase, the skin peels away in flakes and for that purpose one should moisturise the skin properly with a mild moisturiser.
Points to keep in mind before taking a chemical peel
Always consult a doctor first before taking the peels, even if it is a mild peel. Mention clearly to the doctor the medication that you take on an everyday basis for other ailments, so that the peels and the medicines do not react negatively. Also, this peel is not advisable for pregnant ladies and lactating mothers. Follow the aftercare regime of the peels religiously.
So, gone are the days when you either had to undergo the expensive treatment of plastic surgery to rid yourself of the acne scars or just compromise with a face full of scars. This treatment is easy and not at all a pocket pinch, the side effects are short term and negligible, and the only after-effect is a glowing skin that boosts your confidence manifold.
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