Get Rid of a Zit Fast
The tricks you used as a teenager never worked. Fight acne like a man—quickly and effectively.
Young or old, that painful, confidence-killing pimple is a real problem. They always show up at the wrong time and you wonder if there was something you did to make it show up. Then you try to tackle the zit with one of the overwhelming number of acne products all making the same promise of clear skin. Yet, the harder you try to zap your zits, the more red and painful they can become. If you really want to defeat your pimples, you'll need to distinguish the difference between the old wives' tales and tested truths. To get the official ruling on all zit folklore, we consulted some experts and the latest science. Herewith a few myths that may be misleading you and what you really need to know.
Popping Zits Spreads More Acne
Acne is caused by bacteria in the hair follicle. It's not contagious, so you can't spread it. But when you pop a zit, you mix the bacteria within the whitehead and the bacteria naturally on your skin's surface. That can then get lodged into surrounding pores, leading to a breakout. Plus, popping causes trauma to the skin, which can lead to inflammation or infection. We know it's practically impossible to resist popping, but a whitehead can heal within three days if you leave it alone and treat it with an overnight spot treatment. If you must pop, then clean your hands and face before putting a warm towel on the pimple pre-pop and rinse with cold water post-pop to help close up the pore.
Stronger Products = Better Results
Check out the acne products at the drugstore and you'll notice that benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are the two big ingredients. And for good reason—the best way to treat pimples is to unclog the pore and kill lingering bacteria. Salicylic acid sloughs skin cells, unclogging your pores while benzoyl peroxide blasts bacteria, tackling both problems. But you don't need to go overboard. A review by Wake Forest University's School of Medicine found products that are 2.5% benzoyl peroxide just as effective as ones that are 10%—except that stronger products can be more irritating to some people's skin.
Food Doesn't Give You Zits
This stems from some science back in the late '70s that concluded that chocolate doesn't have a direct link to zits. "These studies were so popular that people concluded diet had nothing to do with acne," says Jennifer Burris, doctorate candidate at New York University, who is researching the connection between diet and acne. But these days, science has found that certain inflammatory foods can effect your skin. Burris and her team logged the diets of more than 200 people and found those who ate more sugary junk foods, dairy products as well as less fish, were more likely to breakout.
You may not consider your skin when choosing hair products, but you should. Many dermatologists refer to it as "pomade acne," and it happens when the oils from your hair products begin making contact with your face. The solution? Choose water-based products and avoid any with petroleum jelly or heavy oils.
Moisturizers Cause Acne
It seems counterintuitive to slap that facial moisturizer over oily pores or the tiny bump you think may be turning into a pimple, but dehydrated skin produces more pore-clogging oil than hydrated skin. It's the same reason why you shouldn't go overboard washing your face to strip it of all its natural oils. If you apply a lightweight oil-free moisturizer (not a heavy lotion or cream) every day, your skin won't need to over-produce its own oils.
Dirty Pillowcases Lead to Breakouts
This one depends on just how dirty your bedding really is, according to dermatologist Dr. Howard Murad, founder of the Murad skincare line. The sweat and skin cells you shed during your sleep can leave a decent amount of bacteria on your sheets and pillowcases. And even though you may've just washed your face before bed, when you lay your face against that dirty pillowcase, it's resting on all that bacteria. And anytime you're introducing a lot of bacteria to your skin, he says, you're more likely to have an inflammatory reaction. But he says a weekly change of your bedding should prevent any breakouts.
Stress Can't Make You Breakout
The pimple that surfaced just in time for your big date or work presentation likely isn't an unfortunate coincidence. Stress creates a hormonal imbalance in the body, which can lead to breakouts. Researchers at Wake Forest University's School of Medicine found stressed out teenagers were 23% more likely to have severe acne and reported that such stress-induced inflammation likely affects men and women of all ages. And Dr. Murad reminds us that unfortunately, that's not something that can be treated by a product. You simply need to find an outlet to relieve yourself of such daily life stressors.
You may not consider your skin when choosing hair products, but you should. Many dermatologists refer to it as "pomade acne," and it happens when the oils from your hair products continuously make contact with your face. The solution? Choose water-based products and avoid any with petroleum jelly or heavy oils.