Blame it on our genes but Asians are more susceptible to the appearance of pimples. This is why learning how to get rid of pimples and prevent them from recurring appear to be a lifelong mission for many of us.
While some acne conditions require medical treatment by a dermatologist, such as when you have constantly inflamed cystic acne, most of us typically battle a less severe condition, which is nonetheless pesky. The big question is: is it possible to get rid of pimples and prevent them from coming back?
Whether you are dealing with the occasional surprise zit, monthly breakouts when you’re nearing your period, or have acne-prone skin, this guide will be helpful to you.
First, why do pimples occur?
Those red bumps that sometimes ooze pus you see that you call “pimples” are a form of inflammation of skin caused by a bacteria known as P.acnes.
This acne-causing bacteria feed on sebum plug (hardened sebum) that’s lodged within your pores.
In other words, there a few conditions need to be present for a pimple to occur:
- Excess sebum production
- Pores clogged with sebum and, very often, other impurities
- Inflammation caused by bacteria
Once we get rid of any of these (and preferably, all of these) steps, you’ll find that you can finally say goodbye to pimples.
Cleanse your skin daily
As your skin produces sebum (or what you would know as “oil”), it sometimes gets trapped within hair follicles, forming a reservoir. This sebum is a great breeding ground for Acne vulgaris, the bacteria that live on the surface of your skin.
When the bacteria starts to feed on that excess sebum and infect your skin within that clogged pore or follicle, this causes a localised infection on your skin – or what we know as pimples.
How do we get rid of these pimple-causing bacteria? Cleansing your skin every day to get rid of this excess sebum deprives the Acne vulgaris bacteria of its food and nutrients, which then decreases the chances of them developing into zits.
Most people will wash their face twice a day. If you don’t find that your face produce a lot of oil over the night, you can even choose to skip cleansing in the morning and doing it only at night.
You shouldn’t be cleansing your face more than twice a day. This may actually dry out your skin more than necessary, which may in turn increase sebum production.
Go for the gentle and non-drying formulas in your facial cleansers, which usually come in the form of gels, lotions, or even creams.
Exfoliate your skin weekly
While exfoliating skin that’s already dealing with acne sounds very counterintuitive, it may actually help – just avoid physical exfoliants like facial scrubs or even facial cleansing brushes.
To learn how exfoliation can get rid of pimples, we first need to know how exfoliating works. Exfoliating removes the topmost layer of dead skin cells on your face, which can help to prevent those follicles and pores from getting clogged.
Furthermore, these dead skin cells can also provide additional nutrients for bacteria, so removing them will help to get rid of those pesky microorganisms.
For those with acne-prone skin, we recommend that you go for gentle chemical exfoliants, like lactic acid and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs).
Glycolic acid, which is an AHA, is also a great choice since it not only exfoliates but also helps to stimulate collagen production and increase moisture retention for your skin.
Don’t be too eager to learn how to get rid of pimples that you go for the strongest kinds of acid though! Strong acids will overexfoliate your skin and may worsen acne.
It’s strongly recommended that you do a patch test before using any acid-based products on your skin, to determine your skin’s sensitivity to it.
Leave a small dab of the acid on the inner side of your wrist or the area under your ear for at least 20 minutes and see if your skin reacts badly to it.
If the test goes well, try a small dab on the areas of your face that have acne, and leave on for about three to five minutes. If there is any stinging or irritation felt, wash it off immediately – the acid is probably too strong for your skin.
Otherwise, go ahead and use it all over your face.
Use acne treatment nightly
If you’re reading this guide trying to find out how to get rid of pimples, there’s a good chance that the acne you’re experiencing may not respond adequately to all the skincare steps above, and may warrant the best acne treatments.
Thankfully, many good ones can be found over the counter in drugstores, and some can be gotten from the pharmacist.
The first line ingredient that you should be trying for your acne is benzoyl peroxide. It’s the gold standard for over-the-counter acne treatments and can be commonly found in many products.
Benzoyl peroxide is a powerful antibacterial agent that helps to kill bacteria, which then eases up the inflammation and infection processes.
Take note that benzoyl peroxide, as with most other acne medications, should only be used as a spot treatment. This means that you should only apply it on your pimples, and not all over your face.
Benzoyl peroxide can be drying to the skin, so make sure you use a good moisturiser all over your face afterwards (which is our next point!)
It’s also generally recommended that you apply most acne treatments at night as these products make your skin more sensitive to sun damage. If you need to put it on in the morning, however, just make sure you slather on your sunscreen over that spot. (Also make sure you’re using non-comedogenic sunscreen.)
If the highest strength of benzoyl peroxide does not seem to be working out for you, start looking at some medications from inside the pharmacy. Ask your pharmacist for recommendations!
Moisturise your face daily
Moisturising your face is a must for any skin type, but especially so for those with acne-prone skin. Keeping your skin well hydrated is an important step to reducing your sebum production, which then keeps pimples at bay!
If you’re exfoliating your face or using an acne treatment, you should be definitely be moisturising your face since both of these may potentially cause your skin to be dryer.
Make sure that you’re using a moisturiser that is adequately hydrating, but isn’t too thick for your skin. Go for products that are listed as non-comedogenic; this means that they will not cause congested pores.
If all else fails, consult a doctor
If pharmacy medication is not working out for you, then perhaps it’s time to consult a dermatologist. They can help diagnose the type and cause of your breakouts and teach you how to get rid of even the severest acne, and how to prevent them from coming back.
There are some very strong medications for acne out there which are very effective, but which may have many side effects. Your dermatologist can work out a plan to treat your acne that you’re most comfortable with.
Take note that in some cases you may be prescribed oral medication such as antibiotics, birth control pills (to regulate hormones) or other pills that regulate sebum production if your condition is considered severe.
Change some lifestyle habits
We learnt a lot when we interviewed aesthetic doctors about how we could change our lifestyles to help with our skin conditions, and these are some of the tips that they told us:
- Never squeeze or otherwise burst your pimple – that releases all the acne-causing bacteria onto the rest of your skin, and also increases chances of scarring
- Remove your makeup as soon as you get home, and never sleep with your makeup on.
- Try not to touch your face with your hands as much as possible.
- Investigate if something in your diet may be causing your acne problems, such as dairy.
- Keep your skincare routine simple, and use products that are most suitable for your skin type.
- Try to avoid getting your hair products, including shampoo and conditioner, onto your face.
- If you can’t avoid that, clean your face and neck after you wash your hair.
- Regularly change your pillows, bedsheets, and blankets.
Of course, a lot of well-known concepts about maintaining good skin still holds true: drink at least 2L of water a day, manage your stress levels, get at least eight hours of sleep a night, exercise regularly, use sunscreen, and stop smoking.
The battle against acne has never been an easy one, but when you’ve finally come out victorious, you’ll thank yourself for it!
Can you get rid of pimples overnight?
The short answer is yes, but there are conditions you have to fulfill. We have compiled some tips on getting rid of pimples overnight, as well as how you can cure pimples on the chin if you always see them in that specific area.