Pimples are caused due to excess oil production, clogged hair follicles, dead skin, bacteria, hormonal changes, stress, or inflammation. These clogged pores lead to blackheads, whiteheads, nodules, or other types of pimples.
Pimples mainly affect teenagers and young adults. The most common spots for pimples are the face, forehead, shoulders, chest, and upper back. The primary difference between acne and pimples is that acne is a skin condition and pimples are the symptoms of this condition.
At times, acne can result in scarring. This occurs when acne penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin and causes inflammation, which damages the protective layer of the skin. Pimples can be very challenging to get rid of.
The best step-by-step guide to getting rid of pimples is as follows –
Clean skin is the first step to pimple-free skin, however, there are some essential things to keep in mind before cleansing your skin. Cleanse your face twice a day, preferably in the morning after you wake up and at night before sleeping.
- Use a gentle, creamy formulation for dry skin and a foam cleanser if you have oily skin. Most acne cleansers can be extremely harsh and dry for acne-prone skin. Opt for an oil-free cleanser that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
- Do not use cleansing brushes, washcloths, or any other washing tools as they spread more bacteria to your skin. Simple cleansing with fingertips will suffice. Use silicone and paraben-free cleanser as it will not dry out your face.
- Do not use hot water on your face as it can cause irritation and also prove to be painful.
Toning could be an optional step in your skincare routine. It helps clear excess oil and impurities that could be left behind by the cleanser. Opt for a toner that is designed for acne-prone skin. Dab the toner onto a cotton pad and gently apply it to your skin after cleansing. Let it dry for a minute and then carry on with the next step of the skincare routine.
Acne treatment or medication
Depending on the severity of the acne, you can apply an acne treatment or a medication (as prescribed by a dermatologist). These treatments can be in the form of serums or gels that contain active agents like adapalene, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or niacinamide.
- Adapalene: an over-the-counter retinoid that is formulated for acne. It works by regulating cell turnover, controlling oil production, and soothing inflammation. Useful for managing blackheads, whiteheads, and cystic acne.
- Salicylic acid: a beta hydroxy acid, that helps dissolve excess oil and dead skin cells that lead to clogged pores. Useful for managing blackheads and whiteheads.
- Benzoyl peroxide: a powerful active agent that kills acne-causing bacteria on the skin. Beneficial for treating inflammatory acne-like pustules.
- Niacinamide: also known as vitamin B3, helps reduce inflammation, and discoloration and controls oil production. Beneficial for treating inflammatory acne-like pustules.
While starting active ingredients, start slow and gradually build your skin’s tolerance. Take pea-sized adapalene and apply to clean and dry skin. Start by using it two nights for two weeks, followed by three nights for three weeks, and gradually every alternate night or every night indefinitely. Salicylic acid, Benzoyl peroxide, and niacinamide can be used daily. However, to be on the safer side, start by building your tolerance to it every night or morning.
Use spot and acne treatments preferably at night after cleansing your face.
Wait for a couple of minutes after applying acne treatment so that it gets absorbed by the skin. In the morning, after cleaning your face, apply a face lotion if you have dry skin and if you have combination skin opt for a gel-based formulation with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or ceramides.
Exposure to the sun is known to worsen the appearance of acne scars. Hence, it is important to wear sunscreen every day. Ensure that you use a sunscreen that has SPF 30 or more, provides broad-spectrum UV protection against both UVA (damaging rays) and UVB rays (cancer-causing rays), and is non-comedogenic so that it doesn’t clog your pores.
Most acne treatments take around 4 to 12 weeks of consistent use before showing results. Do not stop following this routine just because you cannot see any visible results. Stop using the products and visit a dermatologist if you notice your skin breaking out worse than before.
Along with the routine, follow these additional tips to ensure that you have pimple-free clear skin –
- Avoid products with strong fragrances as they might harm your skin. Opt for products with mild or no fragrance.
- Do not touch your face or keep picking at the pimples as this will spread bacteria and inflammation and increase scarring.
- Consume a healthy diet as what you eat has a major effect on your skin. Do not consume excess processed foods, oily food, or sugar as it might make your acne worse. Consume fresh fruits, vegetables and drink lots of water for healthy and glowing skin.
- Keep your stress levels in check as excess stress is also of the major reasons for acne. When you are feeling stressed, meditate, take a walk, nap or read a book.