How to Remove Acne
No matter what your skin type, you are sure to encounter some pimples every now and then. If you have an oilier skin type, you may even suffer from acne.
Whatever your predicament, one thing is for sure. Pimples can break down your confidence and be annoying to cover up. They can also be very painful. So how exactly can you clear up your acne for good and start seeing smooth, glowing skin?
Forget about popping pimples. There’s a better way to clear up your skin.
What is Acne?
Acne can occur for many different reasons, whether it’s hormonal, the outcome of a poor diet or following a skin care regimen not fit for your skin’s needs. But what exactly is acne? How does a pimple even form?
Acne is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the sebaceous glands. It occurs when hair follicles become plugged with sebum (oil), dead skin cells, and bacteria.
A pimple forms when a follicle becomes inflamed from debris (such as oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria) which become trapped within a follicle, leading us to the dreaded tender red bumps that invade our faces.
Those with an oilier skin type may see more pimples more often as your skin produces an excess of oils, but everyone is at risk for acne.
There are a couple different types of acne. Let’s take a look at what you may have resided in your skin.
Most of us get the pleasure of dealing with blackheads more often than we would like to (which I mean would preferably be never!)
Blackheads are open follicles with a black surface plug which has been oxidized and discolored due to the sebum’s contact with the air. The reason your blackheads appear black on the surface is due to oxidation the oil has gone through.
While they are annoying to deal with, blackheads can be extracted safely because they are considered open comedones. As long as you extract correctly, blackhead removal will not cause damage to your skin.
It is beneficial for your skin to properly remove blackheads by seeing your Esthetician routinely for a facial. By getting your pores professionally cleaned, you can rest easy knowing that you won’t be risking hyperpigmentation or scarring to the source spot.
However, if you are unable to follow a monthly spa appointment, there are steps you can take to eliminate blackheads for good.
Treating Blackheads at Home
Step 1: Cleanse
Start by cleansing your face with a cleanser made for your skin type.
For a deeper cleaning of your skin, cleanse twice. First to remove debris such as makeup and oil, then a second time to deeply cleanse the skin.
Step 2: Tone
Tone your skin. It’s always good to tone your skin between steps so your skin can be brought back to its normal pH level.
Step 3: Exfoliate
When you are performing extractions, only do a light exfoliation to avoid skin irritation. Too deep of an exfoliation right before extractions could do more harm than good because the deeper you exfoliate, the more sensitive your skin becomes making it susceptible to damage. Use a scrub for a light exfoliation that will help bind water to your skin.
Make sure to make no more than 3 passes over the entire face to avoid over-exfoliation.
Step 4: Steam
Steam your face. If you don’t have access to a steamer, boil a pot of water and let the steam gather on your face for 5-8 minutes. You could also let a hot towel sit on your face for a few minutes to open up your pores and soften the sebum. It’s now time to begin extractions.
Step 5: Blackhead Extractions
- To make the most of each extracting session, make sure you have proper finger placement. Have some gauze on each finger so that you can get a better grip of the skin (no squeezing with your fingernails!)
- Gauze will also allow you to wipe away the oil as you go. Approach the blackhead at an angle (have one finger on the opposite side of the other finger).
- You may need to work from different angles if you are having problems.
- Don’t have your fingers too close to the blackhead you are trying to extract.
- Go at it on both sides a bit farther away from the pore so that you can squeeze it out from the bottom, ensuring you get all of the sebum out of the pore.
- If after 3 squeezes the blackhead is still stuck in the pore, leave it alone as it is not ready to come out. You never want to force a blackhead that is not ready out because it can lead to scarring/ hyperpigmentation of the skin in that spot.
- Only work on an area (chin, forehead, cheeks, nose) for 5 minutes tops. Even if you only get a couple blackheads out, it is better for your skin not to exceed five minutes per section.
Step 6: Tone
After extractions, tone again. Choose a calming toner that will soothe the inflammation from extracting.
Step 7: Mask
Use a charcoal mask to draw out leftover impurities from your pores and soothe inflammation.
Step 8: Moisturize
Apply a moisturizer suited for your skin type to restore your skin’s occlusive barrier. This will ensure your skin stays protected from environmental factors.
A whitehead is a plugged sebaceous gland with an opening that is not widely dilated.
Whiteheads are generally soft, they lack inflammation, and are easy to extract. The follicle bulges when a whitehead is formed.
Just like blackheads, you can extract whiteheads the same way. But be careful not to use your fingernails when doing so. You can cause injury to your skin by digging with your fingernails. This can lead to scarring or hyperpigmentation.
Papules and Pustules
A papule is a small elevation of the skin, usually inflammatory, that does not contain pus. A papule can progress and become a pustule (what you normally refer to as a pimple).
A pustule was once a pimple that grew. It is now a pimple filled with pus and bacteria. It may appear red, cloudy, or white.
It’s important that you do not try to pop or extract papules or pustules.
They are closed pores meaning you have to treat them differently than a blackhead or whitehead.
You not only risk scarring and hyperpigmentation by trying to pop a papule or a pustule, but you will only spread bacteria under your skin causing more breakouts.
Treating a Pimple
The best way to treat a papule or a pustule is to leave it alone!
The worst thing you can do when you have a pimple is to start picking at it. Not only are you transferring more bacteria between your hands and face, but you’re actually giving yourself more of an infection than you started with.
How does this happen you might ask?
Forcing pressure onto a zit causes the thin layers of tissue underneath to tear. The result is bacteria that starts to seep from the infection back into the layers of your skin. Which in turn can cause more breakouts!
If you’re in pain from the pressure of a pimple, you could always spot treat. I suggest using a mud or clay mask for spot treating. This will help dry out the infection. Leave the mask on overnight to protect the skin from toxins while you sleep.
Clay and mud masks are both very potent masks when it comes to preventing and healing acne. When applied, they will absorb excess oil and prevent clogging by tightening the pores as well as refining them.
These types of masks are very helpful for those with an oily skin type for these reasons.
Even if your skin type is not oily, clay and mud masks can still be beneficial for spot treating.
You could also spot treat with a mask containing salicylic acid to draw out the bacteria. Be sure to only use this type of mask on the infected area if you are not an oily skin type as this can cause dryness on uninfected areas of the skin.
You might have seen tiny white bumps on a newborn’s face at some point in your life. When my son was born he came out with white bumps all over his nose. This is called Milia. It is also known as ‘baby acne’ although adults too can contract this form of acne.
These pearly white hard cysts are actually trapped under a layer of the skin making them hard to remove.
In adults, milia can form from harsh exfoliation and damage to one’s skin such as from sun exposure.
Milia can also form as a result of using a product that is too emollient for your skin’s age such as anti-aging products for mature skin. People tend to see this around their eyelids as the skin is so thin and delicate and can quickly become clogged.
Make sure to always use skin care products formulated for your skin type. Especially around the eyes.
In most cases, the best way to treat milia is by not doing anything to it.
Milia will eventually go away on its own and most of the time someone starts trying to pick at it, they cause a lot of damage to their skin.
However, if one is determined to get rid of milia as soon as possible and don’t want to wait until it leaves on its own, there are ways to treat it.
Exfoliation is key. However, you have to be exfoliating properly to treat milia.
This means using a product such as a manual scrub, retinol, or glycolic acid.
Talk to your Esthetician or Dermatologist about what products they recommend for you.
Consistent exfoliation will promote cell turnover and keep the skin thinner, thus removing milia and preventing it in the future.
If you decide you still want them extracted, I highly suggest letting your Esthetician or Dermatologist remove them to avoid damage. There is a procedure to be followed in the removal of milia.
Nodular Cystic Acne
Nodular cystic acne is a form of acne that is characterized by hard lesions found deep in the skin. At this point, the hair follicles have become plugged.
If you or someone you know has nodules on their face, it is best to seek out a Dermatologist.
They will provide you with a prescription or medicated ointment.
There are some creams out that can help with cystic acne but always run them by your Dermatologist before use so that you will be getting the proper care you need.
Let’s Clear Things Up
While not everyone has oily or combination skin, we still all get an occasional pimple from time to time.
Following a skin care regimen suited for your skin type will help keep your face clear, clean and supple, while keeping acne at bay.
If you keep up with your regimen every day and every night, you will find your skin clearing up and staying that way.
And the occasional pimple? It won’t bother you nearly as much and will disappear a lot faster when you follow a good routine.
If you have an oily or combination skin type talk to your Esthetician or Dermatologist about a skin care regimen that they can recommend you follow. They will help you get your acne under control.
And remember this: acne CAN be cleared up. You don’t have to suffer from it.
Know someone with pimple problems? Help them out by sharing this article with them!