Beauty Tips and Tricks

Skin Care

How to Treat Different Types of Pimples, According to The Pros

30 Jan, 2018
By Daniela Massenz
If you’re thinking that blackheads, pimples and acne are all different... um, yes and no. They are some of the forms of acne, and depending on what your skin serves up, you will need different treatment.

By the time you hit your twenties, it’s almost 100% guaranteed that you will have experienced some form of ‘skin blemish’ in the form of blackheads, whiteheads, a blind pimple that makes you see stars if you bump it, or Mount Etna erupting on your chin just before your big date.

Seems that acne is on the rise and can continue well into your fourth decade, in some cases. Blame your hormones, stress (which cranks up the oil) and what’s going on inside your pores.
 

How to Identify Your Type of Acne, According to Webmd:

Mild acne: If you have fewer than 20 whiteheads or blackheads, fewer than 15 inflamed bumps, or fewer than 30 total lesions.
Moderate acne: If you have 20 to 100 whiteheads or blackheads, 15 to 50 inflamed bumps, or 30 to 125 total lesions. Dermatologists usually recommend prescription medication for moderate to severe acne. It may take several weeks to notice an improvement, and your acne may appear to get worse before it gets better.
Severe acne: You have multiple inflamed cysts and nodules. The acne may turn deep red or purple. It often leaves scars. Prompt treatment by a dermatologist can minimise scarring. In some cases, a doctor may inject corticosteroids directly into nodules and cysts to reduce the size and painful inflammation.
What we need to understand is that a blackhead can actually become a huge acne cyst if the circumstances are right. It all begins with a pore, the opening belonging to a hair and sebaceous (oil) gland. The trouble starts when the pore gets blocked by oil and shedding skin cells. The path this takes from then on depends on a number of factors, including whether p. acnes bacteria, inflammation or ingrown hairs are added to the mix, your lifestyle habits, as well as how you handle the situation. And let us not forget that numerous types of acne can co-exist on your face and body.

The most effective way to get rid of these eyesores is to know what you’re dealing with and treat it correctly. Once you know, you’ll be able to ask yourself: Can I handle this myself? Do I need a skin-care professional? Or is it time to see the doctor?

1. Non-Inflammatory Comedones

Comedone is the medical word for blocked pore, which is why you see the word non-comedogenic on many cosmetics, meaning ‘won’t block pores’. There is no inflammation or redness and they are painless.

There are two different types of comedones:
 
  • Blackheads (open comedones)
    An oil and skin cell plug forms in the pore. It turns black because the oil oxidises with air exposure at the opening, not because it is dirty.
     
  • Whiteheads (closed comedones)
    The same as a blackhead, but skin has grown over the opening of the pore, so it looks like a bump and eventually forms a white head (because it’s not oxidised by air).


Read More. Expert Advice on How to Beat Blackheads (and Pores) For Good
What to Do:
We can’t stress enough that treating the problem when it is still mild will result in less severe acne consequences. The aim:
  • To normalise oil production both in quantity and quality
  • Boost skin exfoliation to keep pores clear
  • Soothe inflammation to calm the skin and stop redness
  • Prevent acne bacteria breeding

Do your research on effective acne treatments developed or endorsed by dermatologists. In reputable pharmacies, you will find many ranges for oily and acne-prone skin that treat effectively without irritating the skin, such as BioNike Acteen, Bioderma Sébium, La Roche Posay Effeclar, Avène Cleanance, Vichy Normaderm, Eucerin DermoPurifyer, Garnier Pure Active, Noreva Exfoliac and Actipur.

The priority is to keep your pores clear. Using industrial-strength skin care is really not advisable here, because if you strip your skin of its natural protective oil, it’s going to produce even more oil to compensate.
   

To Squeeze or Not to Squeeze?

As tempting as it is (and it’s soooo tempting), try to resist the urge to squeeze, or at least squeeze correctly: with blackheads, place tissues around clean index fingers and use the sides of the fingers to apply gentle pressure on the area. Wiggle the fingers gently. Do not squeeze too hard, and don’t! don’t! use your nails. You risk scarring the skin.
 
Whiteheads are treated the same but don’t try to squeeze until it has formed a proper head. Take a sterilised fine needle, insert the tip very gently directly into the top to break the seal and press gently to extract the head.
Read More. Expert Advice on How to Finally Get Rid of Your Acne

2. Inflammatory Acne

Here things get more difficult. Redness and swelling (inflammation) are caused by p. acnes bacteria and can become serious enough to need medical intervention by a doctor or dermatologist.
 
  • Papules
    If a comedone becomes inflamed (probably due to bacteria), it becomes a papule, a small, hard red or pink bump. It might be tender. Don’t pick or squeeze, as there’s no head to extract. Rather use an acne treatment, stat!, to reduce the inflammation. BioNike has a great spot treatment pen and Acne Solutions a Blemish SOS Spot Repair product - both perfect for focused spot treatment.
     
  • Pustules
    This is your classic pimple, when it’s filled with pus and has a head on top. Here, picking is definitely to be avoided as you will cause scarring and pigmentation, and you can spread the infection to nearby pores. Use an acne treatment or, if you have several pimples, have a professional extraction facial.
     
  • Nodules aka blind pimples
    Know those hard, hot lumps that form under your skin? Ouch! You’re not going to be able to squeeze it out as these inflamed bumps lie deep within the skin and need to be treated by a dermatologist, who will probably prescribe medication.
     
  • Acne Conglobata
    Clusters of connected inflamed nodules, which often appear on the neck, chest, arms, and buttocks. It is more common in men and often leaves scars.
     
  • Cysts
    These are similar to nodules, but contain pus. This is the most serious form of acne, and usually means there is a bad p.acnes infection. Definitely calls for a trip to your dermatologist. No one is happy with their skin in this condition.
 

Acne and Sensitive or Sensitised Skin

It’s a sad fact that those with sensitive skin can also experience acne, which is a problem as many of the active treatments contain chemical exfoliants like salicylic and fruit acids, which will cause more irritation. Or you get the scenario where acne treatments cause the skin to become sensitised and irritated.

So what do you do? Live with the pimples and hope for the best? Or try a treatment designed to treat pimples, soothe redness and help prevent new acne forming, such as Bioderma Sébium Sensitive or Noreva’s Actipur range for sensitive skin with acne – available at selected Dis-Chem stores.
Read More. Your Complete Guide: How to Get Rid of Acne Scars & Dark Marks

 
What to Do:
If you still haven’t taken action, you seriously have to do so now, or you risk severe lifelong scarring, tissue damage and pigmentation on the damaged skin. Far better to get to the doctor when you see that you’re getting lots of pustules or the first nodules.
 
  • Prescribed medication: The doctor or dermatologist will give you prescription treatment such as topical or oral medication to reduce oil and clear bacteria, such as benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics and vitamin-A/retinoid therapy, e.g., RoAccutane, Oretane, etc. They will also prescribe medical skincare to treat the problem and gently soothe the skin and counteract dryness and irritation these medications may cause.
     
  • Skin care: Ranges which doctors favour and you can use daily include SkinCeuticals, Lamelle, La Roche Posay, Avène, BioNike, NeoStrata, Bioderma, Environ, Cetaphil, Noreva and Eucerin.
     
  • Professional treatments: They (and we) may also recommend, when suitable, adding deep-cleansing facials and microdermabrasion to your routine once a month to keep pores clear. You could also consider treatment options such as peels and light technologies (or a combination) to help normalise your skin again under the supervision of a medical doctor at their practice or at a medical aesthetic clinic.
     
  • Technology treatments:
    • SkinRenewal Medical-Aesthetic clinics recommend Laser Genesis five-in-one treatment, which reduces the size of sebaceous glands, inflammation in pimples, pore size, and improves acne scarring and pigmentation. It is also healing and good to use after extractions. It also has a setting to improve the appearance of acne scarring.
       
    • Most of these treatments are made even more effective when used along with treatments such as Carboxytherapy and skin needling (e.g., with Dermapen).
       
    • Other light technologies that treat acne scarring and post-acne pigmentation: Syneron Candela eStyle (which also treats active acne) and Fraxel Dual.

     
  • Sunscreen! It’s very important to use a sunscreen when you have acne, as UV exposure will cause pigmentation on the irritated skin area. Choose an oil-free, non-comedogenic sunscreen that is designed for oil-prone skin.  Try La Roche Posay Anthelios XL Anti Shine Tinted Dry Touch Gel Cream SPF 50+ or Bioderma Photoderm Nude Touch SPF 50+ for Combination to Oily Skin.

There you have it! All you need to ensure you have blemish-free skin. Please don’t delay action. Early treatment is much better (and less expensive) than cure.
 

Some Things We Do Can Aggravate Acne

  • Sports-induced acne can crop up where we wear sportsgear, like helmets or torso protectors (see back acne), caused by sweating, oil, friction and pressure. Use absorbent materials, like a sweatband or sweat-wicking undervest, and shower ASAP after the sport
  • Not rinsing off conditioner properly after we wash our hair can aggravate breakouts on our forehead or shoulders. Wearing our hair loose so oil and sweat combine to block pores has the same effect.
 

Back Acne or Bacne

While most of us think of acne as affecting our faces, it also crops up on our chests and backs. The skin on your back and chest contains lots of sebaceous glands, and is prone to becoming clogged if we don’t wash the area effectively and exfoliate. It can also be aggravated by friction from sports gear. Don’t ignore it as it may lead to cysts, which then cause scarring.

Use a gentle body wash and a loofah to clear the old, dead skin from your back. For active bacne, apply a treatment like Noreva Exfoliac Lotion, which contains AHA, BHA and zinc, and works like a bomb. If it still persists after a few weeks, see a doctor.

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Garnier Pure Active Daily Pore Scrub Wash

La Roche Posay Anthelios XL Anti Shine Tinted Dry Touch Gel Cream SPF 50+

La Roche Posay Anthelios XL Cream SPF50+

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How to Cure Acne: 4 Secrets to Naturally Getting Rid of Acne Forever

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