How to reduce then keep Acne at bay.
Let me just firstly say that I was an Acne-ridden kid at School who was frequently pinned down by his Father in order to tackle and squeeze this seemingly never-ending issue, as they just wouldn't go no matter how much I spent on facial washes etc.
The extent of this really came to me when I was on holiday and I dived into a pool, with the impact breaking one of the huge cyst-like sweelings of a spot on my face, and having blood and pus run down my cheek. These were no ordinary spots or pimples, these were, like I said, pus-filled cyst style things. I was put onto treatment at the hospital which I will discuss later, but throughout my life so far, I have found some really useful tips to keep Acne at bay, which I will also put down here.
- Assess the situation
- The Medical route
- Keeping the fuckers at bay. Simple things you can do to help.
Assess the situation.
So how bad is this Acne? Like the type I described at the start? Or just a load of spots all conglomerating in one area, or widely spread around? Do they appear in one place or randomly? I found that they tend to follow blood flow across your face, so they would sometimes be in lines or a sequence. I'll explain why later on, and not everybody agrees on the reasons why - but for me the techniques worked.
Do they evolve from blackheads or just appear overnight? Figure out their pattern. Be the hunter, stalk them and make a note of the time it takes for them to appear, your eating habits and let me just say that smoking doesn't help Acne at all. At least not in younger people.
Your foremost reaction to these bastards is to squeeze them, be it a blackhead, whitehead or full-blown pus-harbour. If you can get away with it, then do, but I highly reccommend you don't, as this spreads the crap that causes them. Sure, you can get away with it for a while, and for those tricky ones to the side of your nose might be worth squeezing, but if you wish to follow this method, then I suggest investing in a blackhead squeezer from your local Superdrug/Boots/Healthcare shop. They look like this, and may appear different, but you'll find them in the skincare/facial care aisle.
These things are great for reaching those hard-to-access areas (like the side of your nose or in your ear canal) and allow you to get the crap out of your skin with minimal fuss and bruising/swelling.
The three golden rules for the squeezing method, I found are:
- Wash your hands between squeezing, just to stop you spreading the shit in the spots round your face further.
- DO it at night or before bed if possible. Walking round with an even more inflamed face ain't nice during the day.
- Give your face a good splash and wash after a squeezing session. Warm water for the wash, to open the pores, then a cool splash after to close them up and refresh your face, and help minimise swelling.
The Medical route.
If you have a genuine Acne "infestation" then a Dermatologist is always handy. Depending on the severity, they can prescribe different lotions/pills to help you out. I will post the two I had the most success with. Over-the-counter treatments will be in the next section.
Acnisal face wash.
This stuff dries your skin out due to the active ingredient, Salicylic acid
. It sounds nasty, and it can sting, but is usually a 5% concentrate. Just wash your face with this (without a flannel to avoid scraping and stinging your face), then wash off int he shower or over the sink.
In laymans terms, this stuff dries your skin out, and the Salicylic acid breaks down your surface skin cells (hence why I don't reccommend using a flannel or anything to aid scrubbing your skin with it). It removes surface and mid-depth blackheads, and dries out spots, helping them to heal faster. It's nasty to have dry skin, and especially in Winter, but it works damn well.
Rating - 7/10, as it's not a miracle cure, but used regularly (once a day) it does the job nicely. Bit of moisturiser afterwards to stop the burning sensation you may get is also useful. If you are inside for the day, then just leave it to dry your skin out for a while before applying moisturiser (fuck your Masculinity, this is like being in a windchill with cracking skin)
These are prescribed in the "worst case scenario", or as my Dermatologist put it, they are "the big guns" and usually require a blood test as they mess with your immune system. If you aren't offered a blood test, I urge you to opt for one before you take them, as they can have some nasty side effects, not least if you have a history of immune system-related illnesses in your family. They actually spurred on my Crohn's diagnosis, so that wasn't a good move. However, they do the job, and a damn good job at that.
These pills work by acting on four areas:-
- Reducing the production of sebum which is let out by your sebaceous glands and give you greasy skin (yup, another skin-drying treatment)
- Slowing down the production of cell build-up, a bit like the Acnisal mentioned above.
- Killing the Acne bacteria within the skin, before it has a chance to manifest.
- Reducing inflammation of the skin.
Now I can vouch for this shit as it works wonders
. Within 9 months my face went from looking like the surface of Mars to that of a baby's arse. Chicks dug it and even the guys were jealous. Seriously, I cannot reccommend it enough.
However, there are some side effects which can be countered with the following
- Light moisturisation, as your skin will feel like you are in an arctic wind tunnel when this stuff kicks in.
- Carry round a chapstick as your lips will crack and peel.
- Or carry a tin of vaseline, as the insides of your nose will also become dry. I had a few spontaneous nosebleeds as this stuff was drying me out like a Nun's poontang.
- Drink plenty of water.
According to research, this treatment reduces Acne by up to 90% (1) and I can vouch for it. If you are offered it and have no other options, then go for this.
There are plenty of other medical options out there depending on the severity of your Acne, so get chatting to a Dermatologist and explore your options. it's your face, your self-confidence and your body.
Keeping the fuckers at bay. Simple things you can do to help.
There are over-the-counter methods and some simple things you can do to help. Some of which I still rely on today if I get a small "outbreak" of Acne, although nothing like that which I had ~7 years ago.
is a great cream you can buy that you can apply to pre or post-squeezed spots. Either before bed or in the morning. Thick, white cream (ha, ha) that really works. It's just a strong antiseptic cream essentially, and isn't just good for grazes.
Changing your pillowcase
each night is another good way to keep your face-to-surface contact as clean as possible. Think how many hours you sleep for and the crap that builds up on your pillow. That turns into blackheads. I wondered why the first year of University gave me so many spots. Turns out as soon as I rotated my pillowcase each night (one side per night, then turn the pillowcase inside-out and repeat) they began to cool down. Some do this with a towel over the pillow, but whatever works for you.
as opposed to "facial washes" are a good way to scrub off the surface layer of dead cells to avoid them becoming blackheads by lingering on your face for too long. Give your face a good scrub with some and a flannel in the morning (with enough time to cool down) and before you go to bed to keep your 6-8 hours of pillow contact as crud free as possible. You can find a decent product which costs about £3.50 on average. More expensive =/= better results, and don't fall for the technical bullshit. If it's a face scrub, it does the same job as any other one. Also, if you can find a facial scrub with Salicylic acid
in, it can help even more. It's what is in the Acnisal
I mentioned earlier, just in a lower concentrate (typically .5 - 1% hence why it's over-the-counter).
A shower before squeezing blackheads
opens your pores, so you don't have to squeeze half as hard, and risk bruising your face. Nothing worse than overkill. Remember to have a cold water splash after. Just to be on the fresh side.
A healthier diet
can help in some people. It's true that not everyone is affected by "shit diet and shit skin" syndrome, so to speak. Reducing the amount of fatty and otherwise crap foods can help your skin. That said, not everyone has this issue so I'm not preaching to change your diet here. Here are 2 studies, 3 years apart, but the Jury is still out.