To pick or not to pick… that is the question. What are the alternatives to picking at your skin?
Most of us have been there… standing in front of the mirror, squeezing at our blackheads and pimples until our skin is red and sore. For some, picking at a pimple is very satisfying, but for all the gory glory that we feel when something worms its way out of our pores, we are actually damaging our skin and causing more pimples to form. Sometimes, we just really want to pick. There might be a special occasion where we want to look our best but as luck would have it, a big whopper has appeared!
Picking a pimple is never recommended as prevention is always best. If we absolutely have to, it can be okay, depending on the pimple and how we go about extracting it. So firstly, we need to determine what kind of pimple it is.
Technically called ‘open comedones’ these are blocked pores which oxodise and change colour, giving the appearance of being black. The best way to remove blackheads is to treat the underlying cause, which is usually excess oil. Purchasing a cleanser that contains exfoliating properties such as enzymes or lactics will certainly help in getting rid of blackheads. Can you remove them at home though? Blackheads are not recommended to be squeezed. Because they are deeper, squeezing will cause trauma to the dermis and spread the bacterial further, creating more!
Alternative to picking at your blackheads
Instead of picking, you can fill a basin with boiling water and hover your face over the steam. This will ‘melt’ the cap of the blackhead, making them easier to be cleaned out. Cleanse twice and rinse (not in the boiling water!). Leaving your face in the steam, massage an enzyme exfoliator such as Osmosis MD Polish, into your face for about two minutes. Apply a hot clean hand towel over your face and lay down until the towel is cool. Wipe away any excess product and apply a clay mask to the affected area. Massage in and leave for 15 minutes, rinse and finish off with your serums.
If this process is done once to twice per week, you will notice a significant difference in the amount of blackheads you have. Remember to cleanse every morning and night and never sleep in your makeup. Using a mineral makeup such as Jane Iredale will also assist in minimising blackheads.
Technically called ‘closed comedones’, these are the same as blackheads, except they are covered with a thin layer of skin. These are the pimples that we are most likely going to want to pick. But just as with blackheads, it is far better to treat the underlying cause with a good skin care routine. On those occasions where you may be heading out and have a whopper on your face, here is the best way to remove it.
First, make sure your hands are clean. Super, super clean. Cleanse as normal. Have a clean face cloth in a basin of very hot water and apply the hot face cloth onto the pimple. This will soften the skin that covers the pimple. Gently press around the pimple to extract the infection. If you have to press too hard, leave it as you don’t want to traumatize the surrounding area. Once the infection is out, cleanse your whole face again, and apply a blemish ointment such as Aspect Stop Spot or Société Blemish Clarifying Complex to the pimple. Continue with your regular routine.
Just be aware that everytime you pick at a pimple, you are likely to cause scarring.
A form of long standing acne that results in painful nodules and is specifically found on the face, neck and back. Caused by excess oil, cystic acne is deep, red and may not result in whiteheads. Cystic acne must NEVER be squeezed. It is too deep and any squeezing will result in scarring, and can leave you with poc marked skin. To treat this form of acne, a strict skin care routine is a must. Using an AHA cleanser such the one from Société will remove oil followed by an epidermal repair serum such as Osmosis MD Rescue which will heal and improve your skin in every way. A Vitamin A may be suitable and you can use this to spot treat.
Seek advice for Cystic Acne and treat holistically
If you have been a picker in the past and you are left with scarring or post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, there are certain products that you can use to minimise the scars. Osmosis MD Rescue gets another mention as a serum with super powers. Société’s Triple C will also assist in healing old wounds and also do wonders for keeping further blemishes at bay!
Remember, with any acne and scarring, it is always best to seek advice from a dermal therapist who will assist you in making the right choices for your skin.
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