Published Jan 3, 2021

My “Acne War”: How a doctor treated me swiftly within 3 months in Singapore

As the well-known saying goes: "There are no ugly women, only lazy ones." Her name is XiaoMei, 29 years old, from Jiangsu, China.

Before treatment

What exactly did she go through?

"From a land situated at a latitude of more than 30 degrees north, to one at the equator"

Like many "Singapore drifters", she came to Singapore with many dreams. Having found an ideal job here, she thought that she would be on her way to success. Little did she expect that her nemesis – acne - would be ushered into her life during her first week here in Singapore.

It’s just acne, you say. Why call it a nemesis? Was it really such a big deal?

Yes, really.

She grew up in a water village to the south of the Yangtze River, with four distinct seasons and a pleasant climate. Her skin, although not delicate and flawless, was at the very least considered to be smooth and supple. Other than short periods during puberty, she never had acne issues.

Image credit to: Singapore Eye

Arriving in Singapore in May during the peak of the hottest season, the heat and humidity had caused acne spots to surface after just one week. In addition, having to wear a mask at work for prolonged hours did not allow her skin to “breathe properly”, and thus created a fertile breeding ground for skin congestion and clogged pores, aggravating the acne problem…

Image credit to: Singapore Eye

It was at this point, that she started her “war on acne”, which lasted for a year.

Round 1: Hiding

Since the onset of her acne problems, she would seldom take photos and rarely post on social media, thinking that she could ignore the problem and get on with life. Little did she expect the problem to confront her head-on on her first day at work.

She had to submit her bared-face photo for her work pass application - where her acne-prone face would be exposed for all to see. What could she do to hide her looks? She would don a pair of thick glasses, hoping to cover the problem and kept her head low as much as possible when taking the photo. Did she manage to avoid the problem? No, she did not.

Image credit to: Singapore Eye
Hiding the acne on her face with her thick glasses

Every day at work, the security guard would carefully check the work pass of staff entering the premise. When it came to her turn, she would always try to avoid the guard’s visual scrutiny. With a face full of acne, being scrutinized in this manner by others everyday chipped away at her self-esteem. It is the same reason why many of us are reluctant to let others see the unflattering photo on our ID cards or passport.

When out shopping with friends, she would have to apply a thick layer of concealer, but this would cause her skin to be even more clogged, creating a vicious cycle where her condition would worsen the more she tried to cover up with make-up. In less than a few months, her condition had deteriorated significantly.

Image credit to: Singapore Eye

Her acne problems also caused her once-confident self to dwindle, subconsciously stepping back from people when talking to them, and hiding in the background as far as possible when taking selfies with friends. Her photos in Singapore also showed her standing far away.

Image credit to: Singapore Eye
Having to face the world with one’s acne-filled face is a constant struggle that should resonate with fellow "acne comrades".

Round 2: Self-Squeezing

She had also done what many acne patients would do – buying various acne products over-the-counter for application on the skin. However, these products could not resolve the inflammation nor treat the root cause. She even bought a comedone extractor to attempt to squeeze out her pus-filled acne on her own, which she later on realized was certainly not recommended and could have potentially worsened her skin further!

Image credit to: Singapore Eye
The comedone extractor is one of the tools that many "acne comrades" will resort to using, but it is not recommended to do this yourself at home.

Every night, she would use comedone extractor on her face, and the next morning, the first thing she did when she woke up was not to wash up, but to glance longingly into the mirror to see if the acne had disappeared, but alas, it still remained.

Image credit to: Singapore Eye
Do not pop acne with your hands! Inappropriate technique or the presence of bacteria on one’s hands could cause further infection on the skin or worsen the acne condition with further marks or even permanent scarring. Always consult a skin & aesthetics doctor if you have any acne issues.

Round 3: At the brink of giving up

Trapped in this vicious cycle, not only did her acne situation not improve, but it continued to worsen. She had considered giving up and contemplated simply covering up her face with thick make-up for the rest of her life!

However at the same time, she was also consumed by worries that her acne issues would become more inflamed and leave marks and scars on her face; a dilemma that acne sufferers should be familiar with.

And so, this suffering lasted for another year.

Tips: Do you know how acne marks and scars are formed?

If left untreated, active inflamed acne can leave unsightly reddish-brown acne marks on the surface of the skin. Depending on the severity and patient’s skin type, these marks may take several months or even a year or two to resolve on its own.

Worse still, acne inflammation can even cause skin damage, causing the skin to fail to regenerate normally, which will lead to the appearance of unsightly depressed scars or “pitted holes” on the skin. These scars, unlike acne marks, will not heal by themselves and are likely to be permanent.

The best way to prevent the formation of acne marks or scars is to properly treat and control inflamed acne as soon as possible.

Acne scars
Acne marks

Round 4: Acne Wars - A New Hope

Due to her acne problems, it could be said that not a single day of XiaoMei’s life in Singapore was truly carefree. It was not until one faithful day that she realized that a roommate, who was similarly suffering from acne problems, now had much clearer skin. After some probing, she learnt that this roommate had sought treatment at One Face Skin & Aesthetics Clinic in Singapore (One Face Clinic).

The living proof of her roommate’s acne treatment efficacy had revived XiaoMei with new hopes, so she made an appointment with Dr David Ng C. H. at One Face Clinic. Little did she expect that the acne problems that had troubled her for so long would be resolved swiftly in a mere three months’ time.

XiaoMei was understandably skeptical at first because she had never seen a doctor for her acne problems before; could simply visiting this clinic really be the solution to the horrible skin condition that had plagued her throughout most of her adult life? She also had her concerns on how much these treatments would cost and whether or not they would truly improve her condition.

Before treatment

Dr David had assessed her acne condition to be more serious and decided to first prescribe oral medications coupled with topical applications for XiaoMei. She learnt that if she had relatively milder forms of acne, the topical applications formulated by the clinic would suffice.

She was pleasantly surprised at how reassuring and convenient the entire experience at the clinic was. Dr David and the staff were very friendly, and she also appreciated that the staff would take the time to demonstrate how to apply the topical skincare medication as well as to patiently explain to her in Mandarin all the skincare steps she needed to take.

Initially, things were not completely smooth sailing. The oral medications had caused a few gastric issues, which was an inherent side effect experienced by some, but not all patients. This prompted Dr David to adjust the treatment plan to a different medication regimen which would be easier on her stomach.

Round 5: Victory finally!

XiaoMei would visit the clinic twice a month initially for follow-up sessions with Dr David, which eventually lengthened to once a month. The entire treatment program lasted for about 3 months and didn’t cost her more than several hundred dollars, something she could very comfortably afford.

Gradually over the next few weeks, the acne spots and outbreaks on her face began to subside and her skin started clearing up. What was once “angry-looking” red acne that were inflamed eventually dried up and healed, and many of her friends could not help but to comment on how much her complexion had improved. She was elated to hear this and as she got more and more good feedback on her complexion, she started to regain her confidence and self-esteem. She even started to look forward to going out with her friends, and meeting new people once again.

XiaoMei found this whole treatment journey transformative for herself; little did she know that within just 3 months of acne treatment and proper aftercare with the right skincare doctor and team, she could finally overcome her acne nemesis which had been troubling her for years, and yet she was almost on the brink of giving up for good just a few months prior.

Feeling much liberated with her newfound confidence, XiaoMei now enjoys her new lease of life in Singapore.

Before treatment

Though XiaoMei took 3 months to clear her acne, treatment response and duration may vary between individuals.

Note: Singapore’s Ministry of Health does not allow the display of After-photos on the clinic website. Interested parties may visit One Face Clinic to view more Before/After photos of patients who have been successfully treated.

Conclusion: XiaoMei is not alone in her “war on acne”

There are many people like XiaoMei, who have just arrived in Singapore to work or study, are either not accustomed to the hot humid climate, a new environment or local diet, or might be stressed out from their work or studies, leading to acne outbreaks.

In fact, many local Singaporeans, in particular ladies in their 30’s and 40’s, are also troubled by acne issues on their lower face (jawlines and chin), especially nearing their menstrual periods or after using unsuitable skincare or cosmetics. These are termed as adult hormonal acne.

Many acne patients whom I have treated have encountered the same obstacle when they first approached their skin problem, which is Misinformation! Many of them, prior to seeking medical help, have tried ineffective self-treatments or over-the-counter skincare products that are not tailored to address their acne condition, and in the end, wasted their precious time, money and effort. Furthermore, the mental struggle and social stress related to having active acne issues is also a huge burden to carry for some of them.

Remember: you’re not alone in your fight against acne! It’s never too late to get proper and effective medical treatment to solve your acne issues.

If you have any inquiries about acne issues, feel free to WhatsApp me at +65 9822 2989 or call in at +65 6222 2262, I’ll be happy to address all of them.

You can also e-mail me at:


Dr. David Ng C H

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