Condition > Active Acne

Types, Causes and Acne Treatments in Singapore

Causes Of Acne

Acne is a very common skin problem and can infect the face, chest, shoulders and back. Acne often begins to form during your teenage years. While it generally resolves on its own, acne can sometimes persist through adulthood and be a major problem throughout your life. Seeking acne treatment early can prevent this from happening and it can also greatly reduce the chances of acne breakouts leaving behind scars. 

Acne during puberty is a result of your skin’s response to hormonal changes. During puberty, your skin’s sebaceous glands produce excessive sebum (skin oil). The sebaceous gland openings to the skin’s surface frequently get blocked, forming whiteheads and blackheads. The fatty acids within these blocked oil glands become infected by bacteria living on the surface of your skin. This infection leads to skin inflammation, followed by pustules, and sometimes, painful cysts.

Acne can also be aggravated by stress, insufficient sleep, hormonal changes and several other environmental factors. 

Types of Acne

While most may think that all acne is the same and can be treated by one miracle spot treatment, the truth is that each type of acne lesion requires a different treatment. Receiving prompt, correct treatment can reduce the risk of long-term skin complications, such as Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH), dark spots and acne scarring.

Acne falls into two categories, depending on whether they cause inflammation of the surrounding skin: Non-inflammatory and Inflammatory Acne lesions.

Non-Inflammatory Acne Lesions 

Whiteheads and blackheads are the mildest forms of non-inflammatory acne lesions. These form of acne lesions generally don't cause any pain or swelling.


Whiteheads (closed comedones) are tiny spots or bumps that are visible as white or flesh-coloured lesions. These lesions are characterised by a white, round centre that is encircled by what looks like a red halo. They are formed when oil and dead skin are trapped within the pore under the skin. Fortunately, whiteheads generally do not lead to scarring of the skin.

blackheads and whiteheads


Blackheads (open comedones) are tiny spots that are dark-coloured and may appear as slightly elevated bumps on the skin. While the center of the blackhead is dark - almost black, the area surrounding the blackhead is skin-coloured. The discolouration in the blackhead is not due to trapped dirt. The blackhead is formed when the pore blockage is exposed through the open pore, exposing the contents to the air and is darkened due to oxidation. 

Inflammatory Acne Lesions 

These are lesions that have an inflamed, swollen appearance, are red in colour and are warm to the touch. Cysts, nodules, papules and pustules are all different types of inflammatory acne.

Minor to mild forms


Papules manifest in the form of small red bumps that sit beneath the surface of the skin. These lesions do not have a visible center comprising of pus like whiteheads do.


Pustules (Pimples)

Pustules are the most familiar form of acne - also known as pimples. They are often larger in size and tender to the touch and characterised by a well-defined, circular centre. The centre usually has pus that could be white or yellow in colour that is caused by an infected pore cavity. Acne pustules are generally hard and painful to the touch. The skin adjoining the bump is likely to have a red and inflamed look. 

Moderate to Severe Forms 


Nodules or nodular acne is a type of chronic acne with large, inflamed, hard and painful lumps firmly ensconced within the skin. Similar to deeper papules, nodular acne also have no visible head of pus-filled centre. These acne lesions form with clogged pores damage the deeper tissues and cells beneath the skin. These lesions can also result in dark spots, scarring and similar complications of the skin. 


Cysts are the most severe type of acne. They are usually distinguished by pus-filled lumps that are red or white in colour. These lumps and deep-seated within the skin and are generally huge, soft to the touch and painful. When a cysts bursts open, the infection can spread further, which can result in more breakouts on the skin. If left untreated, cysts can lead to acne scarring and other skin complications. 

Acne Treatment Options in Singapore

Treatment for active acne should start early; untreated acne usually causes disfiguring skin scarring, which may result in some acne sufferers developing emotional and social inadequacies.

Different types of acne lesions require different treatment approaches. To avert further damage as quickly as possible, I use a multifactorial approach to treat active acne.

A combination of epidermal and dermal laser treatments, together with Intense Pulse Light (IPL) , Dual Wave RF Microneedling and phototherapy, with the concurrent application of topical medications such as chemical peels and medi-facials, can usually clear active acne and improve the scar appearance quite rapidly.

Treatments for Different Types of Acne | Dr Chiam Chiak Teng

Treating Acne Medically | Dr Kenneth Thean

Frequently Asked Questions on Acne Treatment in Singapore

Q: What acne treatments are the best for me?

A: There are more than one type of acne treatments, to determine the suitable treatments for you, the doctor will have to carefully assess your skin type, severity of the acne and other factors in order to advise. The treatment can be a combination of topical cream, oral medications paired with energy devices or standalone. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Q: Will my acne go away?

A: Oftentimes, acne will go away on its own after puberty has ended. However, there are some people who will continue to struggle with acne in adulthood. But the good news is that all acne can be successfully treated, it is about finding the suitable treatment as well as having a proper skin care regime.

It is also important to take care of your acne conditions early to prevent future scarring in the future which can be difficult and more expensive to treat.

Q: How can I keep acne away?

A: There are multiple ways you can keep your skin healthy.

1) Use a gentle facial cleanser, avoid over exfoliating your skin.

2) For women - select makeup that does not clog the pores or change your makeup if it is causing you to have blemishes. 

3) Exercising can help to promote skin cell health as it increases the blood flow. The increase in blood flow can provide both oxygen and nutrients to the cells and carries away waste products. By exercising, it can also alleviate stress which in turn keeps those stress levels down and helps your skin look radiant. 

Q. When should I see a doctor for acne treatment?

A: If over-the-counter treatments such as topical retinoid or creams containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid are ineffective and your acne condition becomes more severe. It is good to approach your doctor for an alternative solution early. Severe acne, if left untreated, may lead to acne scarring, which may require a longer time to treat.