How To Tell If Its Purging Or A Breakout
All spots, whether itâs via purging or a breakout, are caused deep within your skin. Pimples and blemishes consistent with a breakout are caused by oil, bacteria, dead skin cells and buildup in your pores, leading to whiteheads, blackheads, pimples and more severe acne like cysts and nodules. Some skincare products can also get trapped in your pores, which is why introducing new products can cause breakouts.
So whatâs the difference between a skin purge and a breakout?
Skin purging is when your skin is adjusting to the new product. Spots appear where you frequently get them and they go away faster than a normal pimple. Purging is a sign that the product is working and you should continue with the treatment as prescribed. After a few weeks of purging, your skin and acne will have noticeably improved.
Breaking out is when your skin is reacting because it is sensitive to something in the new product. You may get spots in a new area that you donât typically and they take longer to go away. If your skin is reacting with a breakout, you should stop using the product.
Purging can be a lengthy process, and the journey to clear skin is one that can take several months. However, itâs important to continue your acne treatment as prescribed in order to achieve the best results.
How Do I Get Rid Of Hormonal Acne
What else can I do to clear hormonal acne?Wash your face in the morning and again in the evening.Apply no more than a pea-size amount of any acne product.
Applying too much can dry out your skin and increase irritation.Wear sunscreen every day.Use only noncomedogenic products to reduce your risk of clogged pores..
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Why Is My Acne So Bad
Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Have you ever dealt with acne that only ever seems to get worse? While some acne breakouts are easy to deal with, others can seem immune to treatment, bouncing back in days after even the most aggressive and extensive cleansing and skin care efforts.
If youre prone to bad acne breakouts, its easy to become frustrated and overwhelmed by the seemingly endless number of products available claiming to clear your skin.
The reality of acne is that its largely caused by a few factors, namely your skins production of oils, the accumulation of dead skin cells and the growth of bacteria on your skin.
Behind these factors are a few root causes, which may include your hormone levels, skin care habits, use of cosmetics and general hygiene.
If you have bad acne, dont panic. Once youre able to identify the cause of your acne, treating your breakouts becomes far easier.
Below, weve explained how acne develops, as well as the root causes of acne breakouts that can affect your skin. Weve also explained exactly how you can treat severe or persistent acne to get rid of acne breakouts and keep them away for good.
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Purging: When Your Skin Gets Worse Before It Gets Better
Curology TeamApr 17, 2019 · 5 min read
Medically reviewed by:Nancy Satur, MD
Curology Editorial Team
Welcome to Ask Curology, a new series on the Curology blog where one of our in-house licensed dermatology providers answers your questions about all things skincare. Today were talking about skin purging: that not-so-fun but pretty common occurrence, when treating your acne causes more breakouts at first.
Your skin may get worse before it gets better, but it will get better! Read on for pro tips on how to get rid of acne and cope with purging in the process.
TL DR: it just takes patience and persistence, and a little help from your Curology custom formula.
Don’t Ignore Your Diet
Greasy foods, chocolate, and dairy don’t cause acne, but certain foods can exacerbate it. “Diet can affect hormones that, in turn, can make acne worse, says Zuriarrain. Foods that are high in sugar can cause a spike in insulin levels which can alter your hormones and affect your skin.
So if you’re on a strict skincare regimen but your skin isn’t clearing up, you should take a look at your diet. Dairy, in particular, is known to cause problems with current acne-sufferers. Greasy foods are also bad for the skin. Zuriarrain says a higher intake of fruits and vegetables can be beneficial to preventing acne.
A healthy diet, in addition to the right acne-fighting products, can help you have healthy and clear skin.
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The Location Of The Acne On The Body
The location of the acne will determine at times what type of treatment is needed. For example, back acne where there are big pimples may require medical lotions and creams to reduce swelling and blotchiness. For face acne, this might require microneedling using a SkinPen first to open up the pours before moving on to lotion treatment that will help reduce oily composites inside skin pours.
Hormonal Acne: Diet Dos And Donts
The exact role between diet and hormonal acne isnt fully understood. Some foods may help prevent acne particularly inflammation-fighting foods.
Plant-based foods high in antioxidants may help reduce inflammation and promote clearer skin. Omega-3 fatty acids may also decrease skin inflammation.
Contrary to popular belief, junk food alone doesnt cause acne. But overdoing it on certain foods may lead to increased inflammation.
You may consider limiting the following:
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How Do I Treat Hormonal Acne
Based on the severity of your acne, different treatment options are available to reduce sebum production, pimple formation and painful inflammation:
- Blackheads and whiteheads: Topical cream .
- Inflammatory acne: Topical retinoid and/or topical antibiotic and/or benzoyl peroxide.
- Moderate to severe acne: Antibiotic and/or isotretinoin .
- Cystic acne: Steroid injection .
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Can Being In The Sun Cause Acne Treatments To Irritate Skin
Some acne products have warnings on the package that encourage consumers to protect their skin should they be out in the sun. Dr. McGregor says that while we might be under the impression that the sun can make things worse, the irritation that occurs is mostly from the product being used.
Most of the irritation that we see is from the actual treatments themselves. They cause a lot of dryness and thats really what were trying to achieve to reduce whats called follicular hyperkeratinization or oil production by using these products. Its a falsehood that these products contain ingredients that make the skin sensitive to the sun. What does occur is usually skin irritation.
Dr. McGregor adds that retinoids like tretinoin can be inactivated by sunlight. Adapalene is a retinoid that isnt affected so much by the sun, but he says that traditional retinoids are usually recommended for nighttime use.
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Skin Care Concernsthis Is Why Your Acne Keeps Getting Worse
Acne can, unfortunately, plague people of all ages and genders. If youve ever had it before, you already know that sometimes it feels like no matter what you do, your breakouts just keep getting worse and worse. Sound familiar? Weve all been there. But, it turns out that certain skin care habits could be making your acne worseand not just the obvious ones. Keep reading to learn about hidden causes that could be making your breakouts worse, plus find out how to change your skin care routine for the better.
Your Diet Could Be Causing Acne Breakouts
According to Dr. Downie, tomatoes and peppers, two common ingredients in spicy foods, contain acidic lycopenea somewhat common irritant that can throw off the skins pH levels and trigger breakouts around the mouth. But it isnt just spicy foods that are acne causes. Some people have a reaction to dairy, gluten, or other types of foods. How diet affects the skin is totally dependent on the person.
The zit fix:
Talk to your dermatologist or make an appointment with a gastroenterologist to see if the food youre eating is the source of your problem or if something more serious is going on in your gastrointestinal tract. And while you’re at it, you could always try incorporating a few healthy foods for clear skin into your diet.
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Give Your Acne Products Time To Work
When youre trying to get rid of acne blemishes, patience is never part of the equation. But Dr. McGregor says that its important to give whatever product you use time to work.
Give it about three months. The acne treatment process can be kind of slow and like watching grass grow, but I usually give it about three months or so to work. And thats also a good timeframe for your dermatologist to evaluate whether somethings working or not.
Frequently Changing Your Acne Creams
New treatment methods dont always work. This is the same with the case of acne creams. If you constantly change the creams you use, it can irritate your skin, and when this happens, your acne can be exacerbated.
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Instead, youll want to give your cream time to see if it works. Generally speaking, between six and eight weeks is a good time frame to use it before you should expect to see improvements. If it doesnt work by then, you can try a different one.
Remember, when you get a cream to treat acne, it might take three to four months for your acne to completely disappear.
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Youre Using Harsh Acne
Speaking of using the wrong skin care products, you might want to rethink your acne treatment product.
Certain acne-fighting ingredients such as Benzoyl Peroxide tend to be extremely drying to the skin.
What to Do About It:
If you suspect that Benzoyl Peroxide is making your acne worse, try using a Salicylic Acid cream to treat your stubborn breakouts instead.
Salicylic Acid eliminates acne by dissolving the bonds of keratin that can clog pores and lead to acne.
Its just as effective at treating mild to moderate breakouts as Benzoyl Peroxide and is gentler on the skin.
Skincare Tips For Acne
Even before you start a full acne program, make sure that your regular skincare routine isnt exacerbating it. Using the wrong type of skincare product can negate the effectiveness of acne treatments.
- Cleanser: Choosing a cleanser that is compatible with your skin is the first step. If you are unsure of the types of cleansers or ingredients that put pressure on your skin and/or cause breakouts, I recommend choosing a cleanser with the most basic of ingredients. If necessary, only then do I recommend moving on to more complexly formulated products.
- Toner: Contrary to what many believe, toners should not be used as another cleansing step. In other words, toners should function only to rebalance the skins natural pH level of 5.0-6.0 after cleansing. That being said, some toners contain acne-treating ingredients like tea tree oil, so theyre more beneficial for skin types prone to breakouts.
- Chemical exfoliant: Removing the dead skin often resulting in clogged pores, chemical exfoliants reveal new layers of skin. As such, your acne-treating products easily seep into the skin, allowing them to more efficiently do their job.
Acne can be physically and emotionally draining. It can result in issues with self-confidence and self-image, especially during puberty. The treatment journey can be long, confusing, and exhausting, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
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Best Natural Remedies To Add To Your Anti
Teen acne usually sits on the skins surface, she says.
So whats causing those embarrassing zits today? One culprit: changing hormone levels. This includes premenstrual dips , and fluctuations that occur during peri-menopause.
Cosmetics, your skin-care regimen, and lifestyle choices may also be to blame, as well as factors youve never considered.
Whether it’s hairspray or traveling, learn about 10 surprising causes of your adult acne, and how to zap those zits away.
Stress Is Accompanied By Hormonal Changes That Increase Your Risk For Acne
Are you worrying about that deadline for a big project? Relationship troubles keeping you up at night? While stress alone cant spark breakouts, it can exacerbate them.
Stress can worsen acne by leading to a release of inflammatory chemicals called neuropeptides and hormonal changes, Fried says.
Even good stress, like getting ready for a big event, might trigger breakouts. Thats why a huge pimple pops up on your wedding day or before a big date.
Zit zapper Use acne products with ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide to clear up stress-induced breakouts. To prevent future flareups, find a way to calm your nerves, whether its yoga, deep-breathing, or watching a chick flick.
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What Causes Skin Purging
So what causes this skin cell turnover in the first place? One of the most popular acne-fighting ingredients is a retinoid. Available in a variety of over-the-counter and prescription-strength acne treatments, retinoids are a form of synthetic vitamin A that boost the rate of skin cell turnover in order to help prevent your pores from becoming clogged and developing into pimples and blemishes. The end goal is to surface and expose fresh skin cells to reveal clearer, younger-looking skin. However, before these new, healthy skin cells can surface, everything else in between has to surface first. This includes dead skin cells, excess sebum and all the buildup of dirt, bacteria and other pimple-causing things.
During this process, your skin can become inflamed, swollen and generally break out. While it can be tempting to stop using the products that are causing the retinoid purge, itâs important to continue your skincare regimen exactly as prescribed.
Too Many New Skin Care Products
When you see signs of a breakout, your first reaction may be to buy a different acne medication. After all, it would seem reasonable to buy something new if the old products didnt work within a couple of days.
You might be surprised to learn that using too many new products on your skin may actually be causing breakouts, especially if you quit using a product too soon. Overlapping acne products can cause skin irritation that leads to even more breakouts. Whats more, you may be quitting a potentially successful treatment before it has a chance to work acne treatments can take 6 to 8 weeks to begin working and may take three to 4 months to completely clear your skin.
Takeaway: chose one acne medication and stick with it for at least two months.
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Dry Skin Like Oily Skin Is Also A Possible Culprit For Breakouts Of Acne
Its true that oily skin is the cause of bad breakouts, but so is the other extreme. Dry skin can have microscopic cracks and fissures in which bacteria can multiply and cause acne, Fusco says. Plus, dry skin flakes can clog pores.
Zit zapper Gently exfoliate your skin a few times a week and hydrate with a noncomedogenic moisturizer intended for dry skin.
When To Seek Medical Advice
If you have mild acne, speak to a pharmacist about medicines to treat it.
If these do not control your acne, or it’s making you feel very unhappy, see a GP.
You should see a GP if you have moderate or severe acne or you develop nodules or cysts, as they need to be treated properly to avoid scarring.
Try to resist the temptation to pick or squeeze the spots, as this can lead to permanent scarring.
Treatments can take up to 3 months to work, so do not expect results overnight. Once they do start to work, the results are usually good.
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Reaching For The Spot Treatment Every Time You Break Out
One of the best acne-treating inventions out there is spot treatment, which can make a zit disappear quickly when necessary. Here’s the thing, though: it’s not going to prevent more acne from happening, it’s just going to get rid of the zit that’s already there. It’s fine to use a spot treatment when you have a pimple that really needs to go, but it’s not the only way you should be treating any acne, even that specific zit.
Scrubbing Your Skin To Get It Clean
You may dislike your acne but trying to get rid of it with vigorous scrubbing can backfire and make it worse.
Instead, be gentle. Go easy on your acne-affected areas. Use a light touch with your fingertips. Apply a small amount of a mild acne cleanser to your hands and lightly massage in a small circular motion. Rinse and pat dry.
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What Are The Most Effective Treatment Options
The arsenal of treatment options for acne treatment is robust and depends on the type and severity of acne. Topical tretinoin, which works by turning over skin cells faster to prevent clogged pores, is a mainstay in any acne treatment regimen, and has the added bonus of treating fine wrinkles and evening and brightening skin tone. Isotretinoin , taken by mouth, is the closest thing to a “cure” for acne that exists and is used to treat severe acne. Women who can become pregnant need to take special precautions when taking isotretinoin, as it can cause significant harm to the fetus.
For women with hormonally driven acne that flares with the menstrual cycle, a medication called spironolactone, which keeps testosterone in check, can be prescribed. Oral birth control pills can also help regulate hormones that contribute to acne.
In-office light-based treatments, such as photodynamic therapy, can sometimes help. Chemical peels, also done in-office, may help to treat acne and fade post-inflammatory pigment changes.
Simple, non-irritating skin care products are important for anyone with acne. Choose products that are gentle and safe for skin with acne, and eliminate products that are harsh and can make matters worse. Its also important not to squeeze or pick at acne lesions, as that can worsen discoloration and scarring.
About the Authors
Kristina Liu, MD, MHS, Contributor