Let's just come out and say it, pimples are the bane of a twenty-something year old's face. One day you're fine, and, suddenly, there's an angry red spot on your face that wasn't there before. And, believe us, our guest editor knows it, too. This week, she tackles all our pimple popping questions. Read on!
1. Is there a best way to “pop” a pimple?
The first step is to identify which pimples can be popped and which ones should be left alone. Using the proper instruments and making sure they are sterile is next. Ultimately, the best way is to have a dermatologist do it.
2. How can you prevent scarring?
You can prevent scarring by treating acne early on. Also, do not manipulate the nodulo-cystic type of acne. Stop pricking and picking!
3. What’s the fastest, most sure-fire way to get rid of a pimple?
The best way to treat acne is to target its causes. It could be due to increase in oiliness, growth of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes, allergic reactions or hormonal imbalances. Usually a dermatologist will prescribe a regimen that will cover all these.
4. Say you’re going to a big event the next day and a pimple you’ve been nursing gets really, really bad. It’s red, inflamed, and has a green eye of pus forming in the middle. Are there any over-the-counter remedies you can suggest if you don’t have time to bring the pimple to a dermatologist?
You can apply warm compress on the affected area to reduce the swelling and help release the pus. Never force it out. Then, apply products containing 5% benzoyl peroxide or 2% salicylic acid two times a day. These can easily be bought over the counter.
5. You hear a lot of pimple-fighting ingredients being thrown around, like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), retinoids, even birth control pills. What’s the difference with each and do these ingredients target different types of acne?
These ingredients target the different causes of acne—oiliness, growth of bacteria and hormonal imbalance. Salicylic acid, retinoids and AHA are keratolytics—they help control oiliness by peeling off the upper layers of the skin, preventing the formation of black heads, white heads, and acne. Benzoyl peroxide has both antibacterial and keratolytic properties. Birth control pills help regulate the hormonal imbalances that cause acne. Topical clindamycin and erythromycin are antibiotics that eliminate bacteria on the skin. Oral antibiotics can also be taken for more severe cases. All these can be used alone or in combination depending on the type and severity of the acne.
6. What usually causes acne on the other parts of the body, such as the back, neck, chest, arms? How can you prevent this from happening?
Acne can actually appear wherever sebaceous glands are present. Some people can be sensitive to certain products that come into contact with their skin. Fragrances in soap, shampoo, oils or lotions applied to other parts of the body can cause acne. Steroid acne can be a result of taking oral steroids or applying topical steroids for long periods of time. Some supplements can also trigger the appearance of acne in these areas. Diet has also been associated with acne.
7. How can you treat this type of acne? Is it different from the acne found on the face?
Avoidance of the causes will be the first step. Using a fragrance-free soap and milder shampoos and moisturizers can help. Stopping the steroids or supplements and avoiding food with high glycemic index will help. Then a dermatologist can prescribe one or a combination of the treatments mentioned above.
Our guest editor for the month of February is Dr. Anna Palabyab-Rufino. This porcelain-skinned beauty is a board-certified dermatologist and a member of the Philippine Dermatological Society. You can find her working her magic at the Palabyab Skin Clinic, helping her patients attain the complexion of their dreams.