How to Get Rid of Acne And Pimples for Good
Can you get rid of pimples overnight? What about 1 day, 3 days, or 5 days? Quick acne solutions are popular, but how fast can it be done? TRUTH is…you need more than a week. In fact, you’ll likely need 30 days. Acne sufferers want to hear that they can get rid of acne super fast, but claims that you need nothing more than a couple of days to get the skin of your dreams are frankly pure non-sense. Expect to put in a consistent effort for 3-4 weeks before you can enjoy beautiful, blemish-free skin.
If you are between the ages of 8 and 18, the chances are pretty good that you have acne. Over 80% of tweens and teens have acne, as well as about 25% of adults.
Acne is so common that doctors usually write it off as a normal part of reaching maturity—but that doesn’t make it any easier for you to look into the mirror when a big pimple is staring back at you. This article will tell you why acne makes your skin break out in pimples, the different ways you can get rid of some but not all of your pimples, and one way you can get rid of pimples and other signs of acne for good. But first let’s start with an explanation of what acne is and what causes it.
- About 80% of people get acne between the ages of 8 and 18. And about 80% of pimples are caused by acne.
- About 25% of adults have acne, too.
- Pimples pop up when the immune system attacks bacteria in a pore.
- It isn’t just bacteria that cause pimples. They have to be trapped under cellular debris with excess oils. That’s why antibiotics are of limited value in treating acne.
- Some antibiotics get rid of about half of all pimples in three months. Other antibiotics get rid of up to 80% of pimples in two weeks, but have side effects. And one antibiotic gets rid of almost all your pimples in just one or two weeks until they come back even worse.
- Benzoyl peroxide fights pimples by killing bacteria, too. But it also dries out the skin so new pores clog about as soon as old pimples heal.
- Tea tree oil gets rid of both redness and swelling—if you use the right concentration.
- Red and blue light are good for preventing pimples but only so-so for treating them.
- Popping pimples always makes them worse. Popping red outcrops on your skin that look like pimples but aren’t can have disastrous consequences.
- The best way to treat and beat pimples for good is to use a complete acne control system like Exposed Skin Care.
What Is Acne?
Acne is a very common condition of the skin that makes it break out with various kinds of bumps. Sometimes acne just causes a pore to get clogged with a mixture of dead skin, live acne bacteria, and a waxy skin secretion called sebum. This kind of acne is known as a whitehead.
When the plug of sebum is especially hard, its outermost edge can oxidize with exposure to the oxygen of the air. Oxidation of sebum turns it gray and then black, forming a blackhead. Both whiteheads and b blackheads can become inflamed and transform into pimples.
The inflammation that makes the pore pop out in a big red bump is triggered by acne bacteria, but not accomplished by acne bacteria. Acne bacteria actually belong on the skin. Most of the time they eat excess sebum so it flows out of pores without getting clogged. They break down the waxes made by the skin into essential fatty acids that in turn can nourish the skin.
Most of the time acne bacteria are actually beneficial for the skin, unless they get trapped in a pore under flakes of dead skin peeling off the lining of the pore. They can accumulate in the body of the pore and get the attention of the immune system. The immune system attempts to destroy them by releasing inflammatory chemicals, but the bacteria release “chemotactic” chemicals of their own that cause the inflammation to destroys skin cells instead. This gives them a pathway for escape, and gives you an ugly pimple.
What Isn’t Acne
Acne is not the only skin condition that can cause pimples on your face. The second most common skin condition that causes pimples is a bacterial infection known as impetigo. This is usually a disease of little kids, but anyone can get it at any age.
There are two kinds of impetigo. One kind of impetigo causes blisters that pop and leak dark yellow fluid after two or three days, leaving a hard brown crust that feels something like dry nail polish. This kind of impetigo is known as bullous impetigo.
The other kind of impetigo causes blisters that grow together. They may be itchy for about a day, and then they pop, releasing a brown liquid. There can also be swollen lymph nodes. This kind of impetigo is known as nonbullous impetigo.
Impetigo is icky. It’s usually a lot uglier than acne. Other ways you can tell the difference between impetigo and acne are:
- You have to catch impetigo from someone else, but you don’t catch acne.
- Impetigo usually just lasts a few days, but acne lasts weeks, months, or years.
- Impetigo is worst on the buttocks, but acne is worst on the face.
- Impetigo breaks out where the skin has been broken. (Dermabrasion treatments for acne sometimes lead to impetigo infections.) Acne always starts in pores.
To treat impetigo, you have to kill the staph or strep bacteria that are causing the infection. Once you do this, impetigo is gone. To treat acne, killing acne bacteria may help a little, a lot, or nothing at all.
Treating Pimples with Antibiotics
If you go to the doctor for pimples treatment, probably the first medication you get will be some kind of antibiotic. Doctors like antibiotics because they work—at least a little—and they are inexpensive.
The only thing antibiotics can do for your skin is to kill most of the acne bacteria living in your pores and to stop the inflammation they trigger. Since whiteheads and blackheads are not caused by inflammation, killing bacteria will not do anything to resolve these kinds of blemishes. And even when bacteria are killed, redness and inflammation may stay behind.
- Minocycline, which is most commonly sold under the trade names Dynacin and Minacin, is the antibiotic most often prescribed in the United States. It causes vertigo (dizziness due to changes in fluid flow in the inner ear) in about 30% of children, teens, and adults who use it. When it is taken as a systemic treatment, in the form of a pill, it can kill healthy bacteria in the colon and cause diarrhea. It can also stain teeth black or blue if they are still growing (in users as old as 22). However, the staining of the teeth slowly fades, usually over a period of about two years. People who use minocycline typically have about 50% fewer pimples after 90 days.
- Doxycycline, which is most commonly sold under the trade names Doryx or Vibramycin, is the antibiotic most often prescribed for treating acne in India and much of the Middle East. Like minocycline, it can cause staining of the teeth, and it is not to be used by people who have yeast infections, anemia, or liver disease. People who use doxycycline typically have about 62% fewer pimples in just 10 days.
- Azithromycin, which is most commonly sold under the trade names Zithromax or Zmax, is offered after other antibiotics fail, although it is sometimes prescribed as the first line of treatment in India. Over half of people who use it develop diarrhea. It can also cause flatulence, nausea, burping, heartburn, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. People who use azithromycin, however, typically have about 74% fewer pimples in just 10 days.
- Clindamycin is sold as clindamycin lotion or in pill form as Cleocin or Clindesse. It is often offered the first antibiotic tried for treating acne in Canada. It is also used when there is concern about staining teeth. About 10% of people who use it get diarrhea. People who use clindamycin typically have about 60% fewer pimples after 12 weeks.
- Erythromycin used to be the antibiotic most commonly prescribed for acne but acne bacteria have developed resistance to it. It is available in both pill form and as a cream, but it is most commonly prescribed as a cream (so it does not cause stomach upset). The cream may get rid of up to 80% of pimples in two weeks, but the most resistant bacteria start growing back so that new pimples begin to develop in the third and fourth week and by the end of 90 days acne is as bad as when treatment is started.
Popping a pill to get rid of acne never gets rid of all your pimples, and having gas is at least as big a social problem as having acne. But antibiotics are not the only way to fight pimples.
Treating Pimples with Benzoyl Peroxide
The world’s most frequently used non-prescription treatment for pimples is a chemical called benzoyl peroxide. It is not an antibiotic; that is, it does not interfere with the metabolism of acne bacteria. Instead, it breaks down into hydrogen peroxide inside pores, which releases oxygen that burns the outer membrane around bacterial cells.
However, it can also burn the outer membrane around skin cells. Nonetheless, using a benzoyl peroxide usually gets rid of about 30% of pimples during the first week, another 20% of pimples the second week, and another 10% of pimples the third week. That’s about 60% of pimples with a product you can buy without seeing a doctor for about US $10.
So why doesn’t it get rid of the rest of your pimples? The problem with benzoyl peroxide is that it tends to dry out the skin. Tiny flakes of dry skin block pores, and pimples form all over again. You get rid of pimples in one part of your face and get new pimples in another. You don’t have as many pimples as when you started, but new pimples keep coming.
Still, because benzoyl peroxide is so inexpensive, it is usually worth a try. If you can, start with the weakest concentration of benzoyl peroxide you can find, preferably 2.5% or less. Save 5% to 10% benzoyl peroxide for spot treatments of stubborn pimples, and be sure not to get the gel on your hair or clothes, because the hydrogen peroxide it releases is a bleach. Or use both benzoyl peroxide and an antibiotic to treat pimples. But there is also a good herbal treatment for pimples.
Treating Pimples with Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is, as you may have guessed, the essential oil extracted from the leaves and branches of the tea tree plant. Like benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil kills acne bacteria. Unlike benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil also gets rid of other kinds of skin infections, notably impetigo (which is usually a staph infection of the skin), and it also removes redness and inflammation.
A 10% solution of tea tree oil will kill most of the acne bacteria in a pore in about 72 hours. This allows the pore to begin to heal. Tea tree oil will take the redness out of a pimple overnight, and the swelling will go down after a week or two. This is a better result than you can get with any antibiotic or benzoyl peroxide.
However, most of the time, tea tree oil products contain 5% tea tree oil or less. That may be enough if you are using other acne products, too, but if 5% tea tree oil is all you are using to control acne, only about 45% of them will heal over six weeks. That’s why it’s important to use tea tree oil only as part of a complete acne treatment system, or to make sure you are getting at least 10% tea tree oil in the products you buy. The article on tea tree oil on this site tells you which products contain at least 10% tea tree oil.
Treating Pimples with Red and Blue Light
Pills, creams, gels, and lotions are not the only way you can treat pimples. You can also treat them with blue and red light, although light treatment is better for prevention than for cure.
The purpose of light treatment for acne is not to dry out your skin. The skin covering a pimple is too tough to let a pore dry out, and efforts to dry out healthy skin just leave it leathery and even more acne-prone that it was before treatment started.
The purpose of light treatment for acne is to kill acne bacteria and to reduce oil production. Visible blue light resonates with certain pigments in the outer cell membrane of the acne bacterium. It literally burns the protective layer off the bacteria, which either exhausts itself trying to repair its outer layer or goes into dormancy.
Red light reaches deeper into the skin, to the level of the sebaceous gland that makes the oily sebum that lubricates the skin but can clog pores. It has trouble penetrating a pimple, but even though it does not stop sebum production, it can kill more bacteria, in addition to the bacteria killed by blue light.
If you have fair skin, light therapy may be enough to clear up pimples—over about 8 to 12 weeks. If you have brown, Asian, or black skin, the benefits of light therapy will be less for existing pimples, although it will help prevent new pimples. The important thing to know when using light therapy is that many acne medications make the skin more sensitive to light, so you must not hold your face to close to the lamp that your skin dries out of burns.
What About Popping Pimples?
Most teens and tweens who get acne really don’t have the patience to wait three months or more just to get rid of half of their pimples. It’s tempting to try to pop them. But don’t. Here’s why.
When you try to pop a pimple, or you lance it with a needle, you both press sebum out of the pore and force bacteria deeper into the pore. The bacteria that are forced down into your skin continue to grow. Your immune system continues to attack them with inflammation, and continues to miss, damaging your skin.
Meanwhile, skin grows over the damaged pore and traps the bacteria inside. They keep growing even though your immune system is attacking them from all directions. A tiny knot called a nodule grows into a cyst that you cannot rub or scrub or remove from your skin in any other way without risking still more infection and a scar.
Bizarre and bad things have happened to people while trying to pop pimples. One man in Germany tried to pop a pimple and suffered a stroke, when he broke a cholesterol plaque in his carotid artery. A soldier in Iraq tried to pop what he thought was a pimple and developed fever, chills, and night sweats. It turned out that he had leishmaniasis, a disease caused by sand flea bites, that can spread into the lymph glands and the spleen, and trying to pop a pimple forced the infection into his bloodstream. And both catpox and cowpox, viral infections related to smallpox, cause the eruptions of pimples that can force infection even farther through the body when popped.
There is also a kind of acne that is always made immediately worse by popping pimples, rosacea. The tiny red bumps of rosacea aren’t caused by oil and bacteria inside pores. They are caused by leakages of blood from weak blood vessels just under the skin. Smashing a blood vessel that is already weak will only make it bleed more.
If you have a pimple, chances are the worst that can happen if you popped it is creating a cyst or a scar. That’s bad enough. But if you are too impatient to wait for acne drugs to work, you can always hide your pimples until they heal.
There are three main ways to conceal pimples. One way is extremely expensive and has potential side effects. Your dermatologist can give you an injection of cortisone, prednisone, prednisolone, or some other steroid medication directly into the pimple. It will start to shrink in just hours. The redness will be gone in less than a day. But if your doctor injects the same site twice your skin may thin and turn permanently pale, creating a blemish that can be even more noticeable than a pimple. Each injection will cost you about US $100, cash, since the procedure is not covered by insurance.
At the opposite extreme, you could just dab your pimples with a dot of milk of magnesia, the liquid used to treat constipation. The white of the milk of magnesia conceals the redness of the pimple, and the procedure costs less than US $0.10, one thousand times less than a steroid injection. But it really only gets a good cosmetic result if your skin is the same color as milk of magnesia.
The most practical way to conceal pimples is with makeup. For US $20 or less, you can buy all the makeup you need to make pimples disappear until the makeup wears off. And you have your choice of a difficult concealer technique or an easy concealer technique.
The difficult concealer technique involves covering a red pimple with green concealer, and then hiding the green concealer with foundation makeup in your skin tones. This method hides pimples more completely, but also interferes with their healing. And if you have oily skin, the layers of makeup can sometimes separate so that you have a green pimple instead of a red pimple.
The easier concealer technique involves covering the pimple with gold concealer if you have white skin or brown concealer if you have Asian, brown, or black skin tones. The concealer alone will help make the pimple less noticeable. For better results, conceal the concealer with a second layer of foundation makeup in your skin tones for an even finish to your skin. Use cream makeup if you have dry skin, or powder makeup if you have oily skin.
Makeup can make any kind of acne blemish less visible, but slower to heal. It is essential to cleanse your skin at night and to use your other treatments so that eventually they go away. But there is a way to reverse all your acne issues and keep skin clear for good.
Stop Pimples Before They Start with Exposed Skin Care
The best way to deal with pimples is to remove existing blemishes with a combination of cleansing your skin, peeling or exfoliating away dead skin that holds pores tight and traps sebum inside, reducing the inflammation that makes pimples red and enlarged, and smoothing away fine lines and small acne scars. You can accomplish this with half a dozen individual acne products that you try one by one, or your can treat acne-prone skin with a skin care system like Exposed Skin Care.
Exposed Skin Care is neither the least expensive nor the most expensive system for treating acne-prone skin but it may be the best. The makers of Exposed Skin Care claim that 98% of users have essentially clear skin in 30 days or less, because of the combination of skin treatments that both heals and protects the skin at the same time. And with a one-year money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose by trying Exposed Skin Care but your pimples, blackheads, and other blemishes.