You Wanted to Know: Acne

Pimple

Today I’m tackling a problem many of you probably thought you left behind in high school: pimples. While 80% of kids and teens complain about pimples, 40% of adults do also. Therefore I get questions all over about pimples and the best ways to get rid of them or prevent them:

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First, lets talk about why pimples form. Acne is not caused by chocolate or potato chips; it isn’t solely due to hygiene, and it doesn’t happen to everyone – at least not to the degree that you are probably experiencing it. Acne involves the hair follicles and the sebaceous glands that are connected to both the hair follicles and the pores of the skin. The sebaceous glands produce sebum, an oil that is produced to keep your skin soft, smooth, and waterproof.

This oil combines with the dead skin cells that the body naturally sloughs off. These skin cells can block the pores and combine with dirt and bacteria, which causes the sebum to be blocked from distribution. The blocked sebum then causes the pores to swell and create a pimple. It can especially strike during times of hormonal imbalance, like during pregnancy, right before your period, or during perimenopause.

However, don’t squeeze that pimple into oblivion! It crushes and destroys the tissue surrounding it and it can aid in actually pushing the acne-causing bacteria further into the skin. This is not the way to go. Instead of squeezing, crushing and destroying all the normal tissue, there’s a better way of “popping” that pimple. Everyone can do this at home. Instead of squeezing the pimple, you should lance it. Here’s how:

Sterilize a needle with alcohol or boiling water and use it to literally pop the whitehead out of the top of the pimple so the pus drains out. Lance the top of the pimple by putting the needle parallel to your skin. Insert it on one end of the top of the pimple, and slide it through to the other end. Then pull away the top. It’ll drain freely and won’t hurt because it’s dead skin. And popping it appropriately does speed healing, so you’ll be photo-ready a little quicker.

Warning: Do not attempt this minor self-surgery you’ve had tremors (or more than one martini). Don’t dig at the pimple either; besides hurting, it’ll make it look worse. Also, avoid popping pimples above your nose; since the brain is right behind that area, you can push bugs inside if you squeeze down, and that can lead to no good. Finally, if those pimples aren’t healing, get professional help.

If you’re confused, you can watch me show Oprah how to do it.

To prevent pimples, you can also try these simple tips:

  1. Use a cleanser with salicylic acid: It’s a kind of aspirin, but it’s good for your face. It can come in a cleansing mask or face wash.

  2. Pick up on personal triggers: Figure out if stress; your menstrual cycle or menopause; inflammatory foods, such as trans fats and added sugars; makeup; or stuff you put on your face for shaving or waxing are the culprits. Ditch any culprits pronto!