Asian skin risks scarring and hyperpigmentation


Senior Member
7 Jun 2011
Here's a good excuse to give your spouse the next time he complains about the sheer number of skin products on your vanity table. Compared with our Caucasian counterparts, Asians have it a lot tougher when it comes to maintaining clear skin.

While acne can affect any race, Asians face a higher risk of scarring and acne-related hyperpigmentation because their skin produces higher levels of melanin pigment, said Dr Henry Pawin, a dermatologist based in Europe.

Melanin is a brown pigment that produces one's skin colour.

Dr Pawin was in town recently to share his approach to acne management at the Aesthetic Asia 2011 conference.

Hyperpigmentation - where patches of skin become darker in colour than the surrounding skin - can occur after an acne breakout because of increased melanin production in the skin. Hyperpigmentation often manifests as freckles, sun spots or age spots, to name a few.

In fact, even among Asians, acne-related hyperpigmentation is more common in darker-skinned Asians, said aesthetic physician Dr Nicholas Ngui from the DRx Clinic.

The bad news doesn't stop there.

In addition to "indented and pitted scars", Asian skin also tends to develop keloids - thick, overgrown scars that can be disfiguring, according to Dr Ngui.

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions, and it affects about 460 million people in Asia, according to recent research data by healthcare information service provider IMS Health.

Don't sit on it

While it typically affects teenagers, acne can affect adults too. Both doctors stressed that the best way to prevent acne is to control it as early as possible.

"Scarring develops when the skin is so damaged by acne inflammation that it cannot regenerate normally, and is replaced by fibrous scar tissue. So curbing the acne inflammation as quickly as possible can prevent or minimise irreversible damage to the skin," explained Dr Ngui.

Unfortunately, Dr Pawin noted that studies show more than half of acne sufferers do not seek professional help, and prefer treating the condition with over-the-counter products. In fact, Dr Ngui said that, from experience, most people tend to wait for a year before they go for their first consultation.

More often than not, self-medicating with over-the-counter products "is far from adequate in dealing with anything more than an occasional zit or two", said Dr Ngui. While acne usually starts off mild, he said it can worsen very quickly over a few months.

The experts said acne and its after-effects can be just as damaging psychologically as it is to the skin.

Dr Ngui cited an acne study among Hong Kong teenagers, of which over 90 per cent suffered from the skin condition. More than 26 per cent were found to be disturbed psychologically by their skin woes, and close to 83 per cent were bothered by their physical appearance.

"For people at risk of hyperpigmentation, the faster you treat the acne, the better. When you start getting scars from acne, it can become a real catastrophe," said Dr Pawin.

Skin tips from Dr Nicholas Ngui
  • Use a gentle cleanser that will clear away surface oil but not dry the skin.
  • Use a skin application product to control the formation of comedones (skin blemishes). This could be an AHA exfoliant or Vit C to prevent build-up of dead skin cells and debris at the skin's pore entrance.
  • Complete with a product to control or prevent comedones from becoming inflamed.
  • Steer clear of stress as that aggravates acne, and remember to remove make-up before bed time.
  • If your acne worsens, see a doctor.
Acne by numbers
  • 460 million people in Asia have acne.
  • More than 90 per cent of teenagers get acne.
  • 1 in 3 women get acne. Adult women are more prone to acne than men.


Well-Known Member
8 Jun 2011
Steer clear of stress as that aggravates acne, and remember to remove make-up before bed time.
Not easy to "steer" clear of stress in Singapore. Just saying


Well-Known Member
20 Jul 2011
I'm quite sure 'stress' is nothing more than a form of perception though. Compared to probably half of the world out there, we're already having it good, or better than they do at least.


Active Member
1 Oct 2011
Although we are considered doing pretty "well" in sg, there is this unspoken form of pressure and demands to achieve results. We don't have the laid back lifestyle :(


Well-Known Member
20 Jul 2011
I'm still quite persistent on the fact that we spend more time doing non-essential things than we do in prioritising things in our daily lives. I'm sure many of us here cannot deny that - we see it in ourselves and the people around us, not that it's a crime or anything. Just sayin', and for a random fact that we're the top users of facebook in the whole world, it truly speaks volumes as to what we do with our spare time <_<

It has almost become second nature for Singaporeans to do things last minute regardless of what it could be IMHO.