The Perturbing Pimple Puzzle

Ah.  The formidable adversary.  The smallest thing that can ruin your day.  The tiny spot in just the right nook or cranny that causes you mental and physical pain.  It shouts at everyone you come in contact with.  “LOOK AT ME!” I’m talking about….the pimple.

If I know about one thing, it’s the pimple, or pimples to be more accurate.  I have spent enough money to feed a small country on trying to solve for them and is largely the reason why I have such a passion for skin care.  I am not a dermatologist, but I am a life-long acne sufferer so I hope that my trials and tribulations over the years help to save you some dough and heartache.

To the pimple popper.

We all know that at it’s most basic term, a zit (formal term is comedone) is when dirt, skin cells, oil and bacteria get trapped inside the pore.  Your body’s reaction is to get it out of there, so it inflames, causes a zit which may or may not turn into a white head, and heals itself. That sentence right there is very important.  That is how zits work.  Notice I didn’t say “Your body’s reaction is to get it out of there, so it inflames, causes a zit which may or may not turn into a white head, you scrub at it like hell with a facial brush, pick at it for days before you just can’t take it anymore and dig your nails in to pop it, then slather on tooth paste to dry it out, cover it up with 10 lbs of concealer and heals itself.” The #1 hardest rules of pimples is that you should never pop them.  Ohhhhh but it’s just so satisfying to do.  TRUST ME I know.  But you can’t.  Sit on those hands darlings because doing so will cause way more harm than good.

Here’s 5 reasons to fight the urge to pop those pesky pimples:

  1. Our hands or instruments are full of bacteria.  An open comedome can get severely infected.
  2. Causing irritation can prolong the healing process, not to mention make that pimple look angry and worse.
  3. Your skin can become scarred, which can be permanent.
  4. Popping a pimple can occur both on top and/or under the skin, causing the infection to spread to healthy skin.
  5. You can cause other harm like bruising or the dreaded squiggly red or purple broken capillaries that never go away. <— hate.

What your pimples are trying to tell you.

There are all sorts of pimple types.  Since I’ve been at this for quite a while I have learned how to tell what’s going on by what my pimples look like, and pick the appropriate treatment.

  • Scenario #1: Red pimples that crop up suddenly and quickly become a white head, usually after a heavy makeup day or wearing something I got out of the closet (i.e. a scarf).
    • Assessment: Likely bacteria that got trapped in the pore.
    • Fix: something with bacteria-fighting properties like benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, sulfur and salicylic acid to get into the pore.  Also a reminder on why it’s important to wash your face every night, and to be sure to wash the pillowcase and makeup brushes which are all very likely culprits.
  • Scenario #2: Small pimples that look more like a rash and make the skin texture look rough, or lumps.
    • Assessment: Likely a skin care or makeup product that caused irritation or clogged my pores.
    • Fix: Discontinue the product and go back to basics while my skin calms down. Less is more here, and the trick is to let your skin heal itself.  Patch testing and not introducing more than one new product at a time, and checking the product’s ingredient labels for known acne triggers with this website will help.
  • Scenario #3: Break-out city that take a long time to become a white head, if ever, especially around my chin.
    • Assessment: Hormonal acne usually manifests itself in the chin area and can show up with your hormone levels change.
    • Fix: This can be helped with birth control pills, or other hormone regulators.  Talk to your doctor.
  • Scenario #4: Consistent acne not caused by products or bacteria and does not respond to topical acne medications
    • Assessment: Could be related to something going on internally like a vitamin deficiency, diet high in fats/dairy, too much biotin, or internal infection
    • Fix: This one is best handled by a dermatologist.  If you have changed your diet and you’re still breaking out, you may need prescription-strength acne medication like Accutane or antibiotics.
  • Scenario #5: Blackheads or whiteheads + dull-looking skin
    • Assessment: Likely caused by congestion due to slow skin cell turnover, trapping debris in the pore
    • Fix: Exfoliators – AHA or BHA acids, physical scrubs – to remove the top layers of the skin to help skin breathe and acne-fighters reach deep into the skin.

For the occasional bumps or lumps, these assessments and fixes ring true time and time again. To ReadHead readers, I hope you found some helpful tips that will bring you confidence and believe in SkinLove again.

Have a product you swear by or scenario you’ve come across?  Drop us a line in the comments.



4 thoughts on “The Perturbing Pimple Puzzle

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