Visiting a Korean dermatologist for Adult Acne

Let’s Talk about the Importance of Getting a Professional Consultation

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Dismal Days

Earlier this year, I was experiencing a few bad skin days. Le sigh.

Those bad skin days turned into bad skin weeks, and then, bad skin months. Every single day, I would play whack-a-mole with my breakouts, meaning that just when I thought I had conquered all active zits, a few new ones would emerge. And I was completely stumped as to why I was struggling so much with my adult acne.

I just could not put my finger on it.

  • I was using good skincare products diligently,
  • I was eating right,
  • I had reduced my alcohol intake drastically,
  • I was sleeping well,
  • my stress levels were low,
  • I was working out three times a week at the gym,
  • my period was the most regular it had ever been,
  • my weight was at a healthy BMI,
  • I was changing my bed sheets and pillow cases,
  • I was cleaning my phone screen and all other surfaces that my face came in contact with…

Finally, the hubby put his foot down and got me to visit the family dermatologist that his family had been using for years and years. As it turned out, the doctor was on permanent leave, but his replacement was just as lovely. I told him that I was experiencing near constant breakouts and that the resultant scarring had left me feeling and looking rather unattractive.

He inspected my facial skin under a bright LED lamp, focusing on the cheeks on particular, then checked my neck and hands.

Diagnosis & Doctor’s Advice

What he said next came as a complete surprise to me… but one that also made complete sense. Here’s what he said:

  • He noted that I did not, in fact, have dry, acne prone skin, but rather extremely sensitive skin.
  • He advised to stop using cleansing oils and foam cleansers.
  • In their stead, he recommended using a milk cleanser.
  • He told me not to use any scrubs or other physical exfoliants.
  • He told me to be more gentle to my skin – no more tugging, rubbing, massaging, pinching or slapping. So basically, anything involving physical friction and mechanical irritation of the skin is off the table.

Drugs & Medical Facial

Next, he prescribed a seven-day course of two different antihistamines and two different antibiotics, to be taken twice daily. In Korea, you get your drugs in those individually sealed plastic pockets as pictured above. In case you’re wondering, I’ve blurred personal identifiers.

After that, he got me to have an hour-long dermatologist facial with a nurse, which went as follows:

  1. First, the nurse cleansed my skin with what felt like a cleansing gel.
  2. Next, she wiped my face clean with a wet towel.
  3. After that, she applied a toner.
  4. She then placed what felt like a mesh sheet mask over my entire face, got out a little metal tool and some lotion, and started rolling the tool over my entire mesh-masked face, back and forth. I forgot to ask what the tool was called exactly.
  5. Fifth, she wiped any excess lotion off and started extractions. She pricked any surface comedones with a metal needle and then proceeded to extract. Ouch!
  6. She wiped my face with a wet cloth and then got me to stay still for a while under an LED lamp (blue light and red light) to disinfect and kill bacteria.
  7. Hot on the heels of that one came a modeling mask – it’s a type of gel mask that hardens and can be peeled off in one go once dry.
  8. Second to last was a moisturiser.
  9. Lastly, she applied sunscreen and a bit of Fucidin (antibacterial salve) over the worst affected face demons.

Fees & Pricing

This doctor’s visit was not covered by my health insurance as it was a cosmetic treatment, nice to have but it’s not like the flu or a broken leg. In Korea, you’re going to have to pay for skin treatments out of pocket, which makes sense to me.

The consultation and medical facial treatment cost ₩50,000 combined, plus the medicine totalling ₩13,980, for which my copay was ₩4,100. The insurance covered the remaining cost of the medicine, which was a relief.

Aftermath & Photographic Evidence

Now, looking at the photos, you may think that the before picture was not all that bad, but it was. Many blind pimples, congestion, inflammation, soreness.

Right after the facial: Skin looks a little more angry and red than before. Obviously so, I just had someone stick needles into me and perform extractions.

Skin felt and looked better as soon as the next day. Here are some photos prior to and after the medical facial for transparency’s sake. The antibiotics are working well without any side effects.

All skincare products are being carefully tapped on and they’re all hypoallergenic.

I guess I will have to post a little update in the future and recount how well I will have fared.

Day before treatment (Sunday)

Day of Treatment, just After the Medical Facial (Monday)

Day 1 after Treatment (Tuesday)

Main (Common Sense) Takeaways

  • You don’t always know what’s wrong with you and what’s good for you. Doctor Google and your own experience only get you so far. Be humble, admit defeat and ask for help.
  • Get a doctor to check on you and maybe even get a second opinion, especially when you’re at your wit’s end and don’t know what you’re doing wrong.
  • I’m backtracking here, especially after one of my recent posts, where I stated that massages were good for my visage: Be gentle with your skin! It’s not cowhide, and you’ve only got that one skin to go on.

11 thoughts on “Visiting a Korean dermatologist for Adult Acne

  1. wow, I’m so curious for an update later.
    Do you know of any good milk cleansers yet?
    I remember those little plastic medicine packets… and Fucidin haha whenever I have a cut or something my fiance always tells me to apply it 😀
    sensitive skin is so tricky, I hope everything goes well for you ~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Having been out of work for a month now due to Corona I’m focusing on using up what I have before making any new purchases. Can’t think of any good cleansing milks though Olive Young definitely had some options.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really liked the way you told your story and the message behind it. I often see people seeking advice from some random strangers of the internet that will declare themselves an expert. Just because you had skin issues, it doesn’t make you an expert. Every skin is different and it can be dangerous.
    So yeah, even though I’m a pharmacist I still say at the beginning of every article I wrote that people should first seek a dermatologist advice. Thank you for your article!

    Liked by 1 person

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