Bye-Bye Blemishes

Everyone suffers from the occasional breakout. When you have a pimple, there's nothing you want more than for it to go away. We'd all like to say good-bye to pimples forever. Sadly, that's probably not going to be possible any time soon. While there are medical treatments for those who suffer from severe acne, they are too drastic for anyone who only sufferers from occasional breakouts to risk taking. However, there are some tricks that anyone can try in order to minimize their chances of having a breakout.

Common Over-the-Counter Acne Treatments
Next time you go to the store, pick up one of these facial acne solutions:

  • Dandruff shampoos containing zinc often work to clear body acne
  • Benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that cause acne. Try liberally applying a cream with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide after cleansing and before moisturizing.
  • If you have body acne, antibacterial soaps that would be too drying for your face might be helpful on your chest and back.
  • Salicylic acid or beta hydroxy acid loosens skin cells so that they can be sloughed off more readily. This helps to prevent clogged pores. Salicylic acid is also a common ingredient in some dandruff shampoos and can be used in the treatment of psoriasis.
  • Alpha hydroxyl, or AHA, can be derived from plants or made synthetically. For centuries, women have used citric acid from fruits such as lemons and limes, and lactic acid, from milk, to soften their skin and improve its appearance. Glycolic acid, the most affective of the AHAs, is derived from sugar cane. AHAs are often used in wrinkle treatments and chemical peels, and can help to improve the overall appearance and feel of skin.
  • Tree Tea Oil is a natural antiseptic that is a common ingredient in many acne products. It can also be applied directly to the skin.

Tips for Reducing Breakouts
If you'd prefer to minimize your use of over-the-counter treatments, then take preventative action to stop those breakouts from happening in the first place.

  • Choose non-comedongenic and oil free cosmetics and moisturizers.
  • Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water per day to flush out toxins and keep your body hydrated.
  • Get tested for food allergies. In many adults, food allergies are the leading cause of acne, but many people do not realize that they have any allergies.
  • Try avoiding processed and bleached foods, such as white sugar and flour. Some researchers believe that elevated blood sugar can contribute to breakouts.
  • Try to improve your diet in general. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies could be contributing to acne flare-ups. A good diet full of fresh, whole foods may help to alleviate acne symptoms.
  • If you take oral contraceptives, try changing the brand. While some may help to reduce acne breakouts, some brands of the pill can actually contribute to them.

Oil Cleansing Method
This may sound crazy, but many people claim that washing their face with oil has cleared their face and kept it clear. Castor oil is used as a cleanser, and olive oil is used as a moisturizer. Grape seed oil is also used occasionally, as it has antibacterial properties. Here's how to do it:

  • Apply castor oil to face and neck. You do not need to wash off your makeup first.
  • Run a very soft washcloth (flannel is ideal) under hot water, place it over the face and leave it there until it becomes cool.
  • Gently massage the oil into your skin for anywhere from one to 5 minutes, concentrating on your trouble spots. Remember to be gentle.
  • Steam face with washcloth again. You may steam your face as many times as you wish.
  • Gently wipe away the oil using your washcloth. Rinse cloth at intervals and be sure to be very gentle. Continue until there is no trace of oil remaining.
  • Splash your face with cold water. This will close pores.
  • Pat face dry
  • Apply one drop of oil to the face as moisturizer. This is not necessary if you do no feel that your skin is dry.

To Pop or Not to Pop
Ah, that is the question. While it is recommended that you not pop pimples, who are you kidding, if you've gotta pop, you've gotta pop. If you must pop that pimple, here are some guidelines:

  1. Only pop a zit that has a whitehead on top. If it hasn't risen to the surface, trying to force it will probably only make the pimple worse ' and hurt!
  2. Before you pop, take a warm shower or bath, or apply a warm, wet face cloth to the area, to soften the skin and open the pores.
  3. Wash your face well, removing all dirt, oil and makeup.
  4. Wash your hands
  5. Sterilize a needle with rubbing alcohol, or by holding it in a flame. A dirty needle will get more bacteria in your pimple, and you don't want that.
  6. Gently prick the top of the pimple with the needle
  7. Wrap clean tissue or toilet paper around your fingers, or use gauze pads
  8. Gently squeeze the pimple from both sides. Do not use your fingernails. When blood or clear fluid begins to ooze out, stop squeezing.
  9. Clean the pimple and apply an antibiotic ointment, or an ointment containing benzoyl peroxide (which kills the bacteria that causes pimples).

Risks Associated with Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide is an extremely common acne medication ' it's present in varying concentrations in many over-the-counter acne medications. There are, however, some risks associated with its use. Those include:

  • Excessive drying of the skin
  • This drying effect can actually worsen blackheads
  • Generates free radicals. This has a similar affect on the skin to unprotected sun-exposure and can cause premature aging and slow the healing of acne scars
  • Use of benzoyl peroxide has also been linked to the development of skin cancer and has been shown to promote tumors in mice.

Risks Associated with Salicylic Acid
Also popular and a common ingredient in acne and other skin related medications, salicylic acid should not be used by everyone. Risks and side-effects include:

  • Can cause excessive dryness or skin irritation, flaking or peeling of the skin, redness and unexplained warmth of the skin.
  • Pregnant women should consult with their doctor before using salicylic acid, which has been shown to cause birth defects in animals when taken orally.
  • Breastfeeding women should check with their doctor before using salicylic acid, as it can be absorbed through the skin/
  • Very young children and the elderly should also avoid using products containing salicylic acid because of skin absorption rates.
  • Anyone who suffers from diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes), kidney disease, blood vessel disease, liver disease, or who has chicken pox, skin inflammation/irritation, or influenza, should check with their doctor before using products containing salicylic acid.

Salicylic Acid Poisoning
While rare, high doses of salicylic acid can be toxic. Symptoms of toxicity include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Unusually quick or deep breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Neausea
  • Vomitting
  • Stomach pain
  • Sever drowsiness
  • Buzzing or ringing in the ears
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