Dermatologist Dr Conal Perrett shares his dos and don’ts for dealing with a pimple breakout.
Woke up this morning to discover a massive pimple on your face? We have all been there! But while spots are unsightly and can really mess with your self-esteem, they don’t have to ruin your day.
Consultant dermatologist Dr Conal Perrett shares the dos and don’ts of dealing with an overnight breakout so you can face the day head on:
What to do about a spot outbreak
Follow these key steps to minimise the impact of a spot outbreak:
✔️ Grab an ice cube
If you have an important day ahead, try wrapping an ice cube or crushed ice into a face cloth and gently applying it to the spot. ‘Ice helps to reduce swelling, redness and pain of the pimple,’ says Dr Perrett. ‘Ice also improves blood circulation to the infected area and tightens the skin’s pores. This won’t get rid of the spot but is a quick and easy method to reduce the appearance of it.’
✔️ Opt for benzyl peroxide
There are a number of effective over-the-counter acne products you can buy that are available to treat mild to moderate acne or periodic breakouts. ‘I would recommend benzoyl peroxide creams which kills the bacteria that cause acne and helps remove excess oil from the skin, which can clog pores,’ advises Dr Perrett.
✔️ Hydration is key
Don’t forget to drink lots of water. ‘Although this may seem like a basic advice, watercleanses your body by flushing out toxins and is full of nutrients,’ says Dr Perrett. ‘Adequate hydration flushes out the bad bacteria within your skin and you will really start to see the results as time goes on.’
What NOT to do after a spot outbreak
Contrary to popular belief, this is what you definitely should not do after an unexpected spot outbreak:
✖️ Do not pop the spot
As tempting as it may be to have a good old squeeze, resist the urge to pop your spots. ‘Don’t pop the pimple unless it’s truly ready to burst! It’s not worth the risk of having a scab that’s un-coverable or worse, scarring the skin,’ says Dr Perrett. ‘Left alone, a blemish will heal itself in 3 to 7 days,’ he adds. ‘Squeezed harshly, it can linger for weeks or lead to further infection.’
✖️ Avoid over-washing
Scrubbing your face clean might feel like the most natural instinct after a spot outbreak, but over-washing can actually have the reverse affect.
‘Washing your face more than once a day can dry out your skin,’ says Dr Perrett. ‘When your skin is dry, oil production goes into overdrive, meaning that when you think you’re cleaning your skin, you’re really causing more oil to be made, which causes pores to clog, leading to even more spots.’
✖️ Resist exfoliating
Similarly, exfoliating more than a couple of times a week can have the same effect as over-washing. ‘Exfoliators can burst whiteheads if you aren’t careful, which can cause the bacteria to spread around your face or the spot to become infected,’ says Dr Perrett. ‘Any kind of exfoliator, if used too aggressively, can cause irritation to already sensitive skin, causing breakouts to take longer to heal.’
✖️ Stay away from toothpaste
Sadly most of the old wives’ tales about pimple treatment lack scientific evidence, so steer clear of the toothpaste.
‘Don’t subject your skin to myths – toothpaste, perfume, and egg whites do not work when trying to get rid of spots and will do your skin more harm than good,’ says Dr Perrett. ‘It is understandable that you want to try anything you can to get rid of a breakout, but make sure you stick to creams and treatments that your doctor or dermatologist recommend, as these are what will actually work.’