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In a land of seemingly perfect appearances, it is difficult to believe that acne is a common affliction for people of all ages. Take heart that acne is common, with treatment covered by National Health Insurance in Japan. This is good news for acne sufferers who understand only too well that acne isn’t simply a superficial ailment that will go away by avoiding fried foods or washing your face with only water. Some changes to your lifestyle habits will aid the healing process. However, a multi-pronged, long-term approach should reap better results. We sort out what you need to know when seeking treatment for acne in Japan.
In treating your acne, your first instinct might be to visit your friendly neighbourhood drugstore for topical medication for acne (にきび nikibi). You might be surprised at the limited range of effective options available. For more effective and targeted treatment, consider consulting with a dermatologist (皮膚科医 hifukai). You can make an appointment on your own, through the HealthyTokyo Concierge or seek a referral from your general practitioner.
What to expect
When seeking treatment for acne in Japan it helps to be prepared for questions from the dermatologist. Depending on the doctor, you may be asked to fill out a questionnaire before being examined. Questions may include:
- How old were you when you first developed acne?
- Where does your acne appear?
- How has your acne symptoms changed over the years?
- What is the condition of your bowel movements?
- What are your food preferences?
- For women, details of your menstrual cycle and flow.
It also helps to share your primary goals in treating your acne. Do you want to manage and reduce the inflammation, remove pigmentation from the scarring and/or even out skin texture? And while the causes of the red bumps on your face, chest and back may be similar – they are likely the result of inflamed hair follicles and sebaceous glands – they may require varied and targeted treatments as they could be at different stages.
There are three different stages of acne you might have.
Appearance of only blackheads (毛穴の黒ずみ Keana no kurozumi) and whiteheads (ホワイトヘッド Howaito heddo). This is a result of clogged pores blocked by dead skin and facial oil.
Small and bigger blisters on skin that can fill with fluid or pus.
Presence of large, painful bumps accompanied by severe scarring. These bumps can be filled with pus (cysts) or without (nodules). Both need to be treated with care as improper aggravation can result in a worsened state.
Dermatologists in Japan may offer you oral medication, or topical cream, or both.
Oral medications prescribed include antibiotics to inhibit bacteria proliferation, and medicine to reduce inflammation, lower sebum secretion and perhaps to balance hormones. Depending on your dermatologist, traditional herbal medicines may even be prescribed.
The types of topical creams prescribed typically do the same things as the oral medications: inhibit the bacteria proliferation, relieve inflammation, suppress sebum secretion, and increase sebum metabolism. Application however may vary: some are applied to the whole face, while others only to affected areas.
For the most effective treatment, have an open discussion with your dermatologist in Japan. When seeking treatment for acne in Japan, do not be daunted by your lack of command of the Japanese language, as there are dermatologists who are more accessible to foreigners than others. It is important that you can follow through with the prescribed solution and that you are comfortable with your dermatologist. For example, enquire if there is an antibiotic that is taken once instead of three times daily. Bear in mind that treating acne is a long-term commitment and looking for a quick fix might lead to disappointment.
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Headed by Dr. Keiko Akai, a board-certified plastic surgeon and skin care specialist as well as a certified dermatologist in Yokohama, the clinic has been helping people achieve the look they desire and becoming more beautiful since 2009.
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Since 2003, Akai Medical Clinic in Tokyo has been helping people become the person they’ve always wanted to be. By offering a wide-range of beauty enhancing, regenerative medical treatments and plastic surgery in Omotesando, Tokyo, Dr. Hidemi Akai and his highly-skilled staff can also make you into the person you’ve always wanted to be. From acne alleviation and skincare to cosmetic makeovers and reconstructive bone surgery.