Wednesday, 25 May 2022

'Acne is a serious issue'

Acne is a serious issue that afflicts a large percentage of the population. It is an inflammatory disorder of the skin, a condition that affects at least 80% of the population, especially during the teenage years and early 20s and 30s.

Acne has long-lasting physical and mental repercussions. It is a constant topic of discussion and humiliation. A person with acne is subjected to multiple home remedies but to no avail. Ignorance regarding proper treatments ultimately leads to irreversible scarring and hyper-pigmentation.

“Awareness is almost nil. Many people don’t know what acne is, how it comes, or how to treat it effectively”, says Dr.Musthaq Ali, senior clinical dermatologist, and founder of the renowned Dr.Musthaq’s Skin Clinic and Cosmetology Centre in Kochi, Kerala.

It is a myth that acne occurs due to eating oily foods, pollution, or other lifestyle habits. Acne is a problem that is only genetically mediated, meaning some people are more prone to get acne. Therefore, Dr.Musthaq Ali advises his patients to eat whatever they want, and not to alienate themselves from the simple pleasures of life.

Normally, the sebaceous glands present in the skin produce sebum which helps to moisturize the skin. The sebum travels through the hair follicle to reach the surface of the skin. After puberty, in some people, there is an increased level of androgen production. This often leads to excessive production of sebum which can cause the sebaceous glands and/or the hair follicles to be clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells. This becomes a breeding ground for skin bacteria which can cause inflammation leading to the formation of acne.

The general attitude of people is that acne comes during the teenage years and it will disappear as the children grow, which is wrong. “People come to a doctor only at a late stage, in their 20s or 30s when the scarring and pigmentation have become permanent,” says Dr.Musthaq Ali.

Dr.Musthaq Ali believes that beginning treatment at the early stages will completely cure acne with no scarring, pigmentation, or recurrence. With an impressive career in clinical dermatology spanning four decades in India and the Middle East, he guarantees complete recovery from acne. “Acne is completely curable when treated at the early stages.” 

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Thursday, 24 March 2022

‘Cure of stubborn pimple possible’

Staff Writer


Ninety-five percent of young people affected by pimples can find a cure, says Dr Mushtak, a dermatologist from Kerala, who likes to focus on its treatment.

Dr Mushtaq is an old-hand in the game, having had generations of people pass through him. When he was starting out, leprosy was still a scourge. Filariasis was still a battle to be won.

 Whereas he treated many skin conditions in his long career, his piece has always been on curing pimples, the condition medically known as acne.

What is acne ?

Acne occurs when oil, dirt or bacteria blocks the pores of the skin of the face, back, chest and shoulders. It is seen in girls and boys at the onset of puberty. In some of them, it may be mild, in others, moderate to severe. “How it occurs is to do with the individual…,” says Dr Mushtaq.

There are several reasons why acne occurs. In girls, it could be triggered by early year hormonal storms that cause the excessive release of the secondary male hormone, androgen. In boys, on the other hand, acne may occur due to the overdose of testosterone — the primary hormone that makes a man a man.


Another reason behind acne is the production of sebum. (Sebum, produced by the sebaceous glands present under the skin, is responsible for keeping the skin and hair well-oiled.)  When the glands go into overdrive during puberty, excess sebum blocks the skin pores, causing acne to erupt.

A bacteria called Propionibacterium Acnes is also known to cause acne.


There are several methods that Dr Mushtaq follows while treating acne in people. There can’t be one-size fits all kind of treatment, he insists. The problem with acne, he says is, if left untreated, it can result in scarring — in some case long-term, permanent, scarring. 

Investment in skin health

In his book Beauty Pays, economist Daniel A. Hamermesh, has shown how beautiful people are more likely to be employed, to receive better pays, and to have more good-looking and educated spouses.

Though he says the ideas of beauty may vary from society to society, it is universally regarded as an aspect of a person’s height, weight, body proportion, athleticism, face structure, and no less, the quality of skin.

It is proposition borne out even by the market: the worldwide skin care products’ market today stands at USD 129.23 billion.

 It is another matter that for the all the arguments favouring ‘the so-called beautiful people’, there are also push-back arguments talking of commodification, colour bias and social prejudices.

Dr Mushtaq, of course, isn’t part of the debate. His grounds are purely medical. “The skin is the longest organ of the body,” he says. “It needs care beyond the cosmetic,” he says.

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'Acne is a serious issue'

Acne is a serious issue that afflicts a large percentage of the population. It is an inflammatory disorder of the skin, a condition that aff...