No, don’t you even think about it! Stop that right now! I saw you trying to squeeze that pimple. Yes, it seems almost instinctive to try squeezing the wretched things that always seem to pop up right when you don’t need them to. But this is the worst thing that you can do, as it can lead to scarring and/or driving the infection deeper into the skin.
The first question you need to ask – and it’s important to know the answer if you want to beat acne before it starts – is why you have acne. A number of causes can cause breakouts:
– Adolescence (not much you can do to prevent this one. Grow up as fast as you can)
– Having oily skin (You can’t prevent this one, either, so you will need to treat this rather than prevent this)
– Poor diet (contrary to the myth, chocolate doesn’t cause acne. Lack of fresh fruit and veggies does, as does a zinc deficiency)
– Hormonal fluctuations (the dreaded premenstrual spots – not much you can do to avoid this, either)
– Stress (preventable – but do we do it?)
– Not cleaning skin properly (preventable with soap and water and/or some other cleansing regime)
Whatever the cause is, you probably want to get rid of that pimple right now. What you don’t want to do is squeeze it. (Well, you do want to squeeze it, but you shouldn’t). The classic pimple with its white head and red base is caused by bacteria – the red is the inflamed part where the battle is raging, while the white part is the mix of dead bacteria and white blood cells. To get rid of this sort of blemish, you will need to help the “good guys” (i.e. your own immune system) to win. Use an anti-bacterial spot treatment (if you have dry skin like me, then antibacterial washes on a too-frequent basis make your skin dry and itchy, especially in winter). Essential oil of tea-tree (manuka) dabbed on with a cotton bud works a treat, but a cheaper and easier method is to rub a slice of raw garlic over the pimple. This will sting. Alcohol-based perfumes (which include aftershave) are a more pleasantly scented option than garlic. Fight the infection from the inside too, by making sure you eat plenty of good immune-boosting fruit and vegetables, including that garlic. (all this garlic may seem off-putting and antisocial, but if you have a bad case of acne, you probably don’t feel like making too many public appearances or getting intimate with anyone).
Before pimples become pimples, they often start life as blackheads. Blackheads are pores that are clogged with gunk, either your own secretions and/or dirt in the form of dead skin cells, old makeup and other general grime. If these pores get infected, pimples result. Regular face cleaning is, of course a must. Steam cleaning is particularly beneficial – you can do this at home with a bowl full of boiling water and a towel over your head to trap the steam. Don’t be a mug and stick your face in the boiling water, of course. However, if you’ve been guilty of neglecting your skin, the initial result is that your acne may get worse at first. This is because your system will purge out all the undesirable muck that has been sitting there for so long. Persevere.