Insights + interviews

In Conversation with Dr. Tey Hong Liang, Creator of Suu Balm

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We speak with Dr. Tey Hong Liang, a Consultant Dermatologist at the National Skin Centre, Singapore about common skin conditions and new products that are available in the Asia market to treat them. 

Dr. Tey is a dermatologist at the National Skin Centre in Singapore and has a sub-specialty of interest with itch. He is also the founder of the Itch Clinic at the NSC, which acts as a tertiary referral point for patients with intractable itch of all aetiologies.

1. What are some of the more common skin conditions you have observed among Singaporean patients at the National Skin Centre?

In 2015, the top 5 conditions managed at the National Skin Centre are eczema, acne, benign tumours, viral infections and pigmentary disorders.

2.  How does our Southeast Asian climates contribute or impact these skin conditions?

The hot and humid climate in the region leads to an increased frequency of superficial fungal infections and acne, and aggravation of itchy skin diseases when the weather is hot.

3.  Could you tell us more about Suu Balm™, – who is it suitable for and how did the development of this product come about?

We have observed in our clinical practice that itch is the main source of morbidity in skin diseases and there is a clear need for an agent that can rapidly relieve itch and improve patients’ skin condition at the same time.

There were no suitable products in the market and we formulated a cream for this purpose to treat the patients in our clinics. The product was very well-received and our patients started asking for it to be available outside the National Skin Centre, such that they can have easier access to it.

In order for more patients to benefit from the formulation, we decided to commercialise the product through a pharmaceutical. Since its launch in April 2015, Suu Balm™ is currently available in many healthcare institutions and pharmacies in Singapore and is also being marketed to other ASEAN countries and Ireland.

4.  What is Suu Balm™?

Suu Balm™ contains menthol and is intended to alleviate and relieve itch. It is formulated with a moisturising base and an ingredient known as ceramide, which helps improve the skin’s barrier function. The product is suitable for almost all types of itchy skin conditions. Patients with broken skin and young children may find the cooling sensation too intense for them. The product is to be avoided over mucous membranes, such as the eyes and mouth.

suu balm

5.  How is Suu Balm a better alternative from other treatment options available in the market for skin conditions?

Suu Balm™ was formulated to address the then-unmet clinical needs in the following ways:

  • To have the ‘right’ concentration of menthol to provide itch relief. Too much of menthol will result in contact dermatitis and too little of it is not effective for itch.
  • To have an itch-relieving cream safe for application in patients with skin diseases, in particular, eczema and dry skin. Many itch-relieving traditional medicaments contain ingredients with propensity towards causing contact dermatitis. This is of a particular concern in our patients, in whom many have sensitive skin conditions, such as eczema.
  • To have a cream that concurrently improves the skin barrier as patients apply it to relieve their itch is an added advantage for patients’ skin condition.
  • To impart a non-sticky sensation upon application and leave a lasting moisturising layer after application.
  • The usability of a moisturiser is of great importance in improving the compliance to application and it is of particular relevance to countries with a hot and humid climate, such as Singapore.

6.  Besides moisturising with Suu Balm™, regularly, what are some other precautionary steps we can take on a daily basis to prevent these skin conditions from flaring up? 

Management depends on the type of skin disease. For eczema and dry skin, which are very common, an additional measure to prevent flares is to use mild cleansers instead of harsh soaps for bathing. In patients with hand eczema, wearing of gloves during housework in an important measure.  Proper skin care to repair and maintain the skin barrier is important in reducing the frequency of recurrence of such skin diseases.



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