Wondering what the best spot treatment is? If so, you are definitely not on your own.
Cystic acne is on the rise (you can thanks stress, hormones and over complicated product routines for that), there's every chance that there's too much grime in the air you walk through every day (meaning that you should be using anti-pollution skincare, BTW) and long hours culture may mean that you're more likely to grab another sushi box for dinner, rather than lovingly stirring a skin-friendly turmeric-spiked dhal over the hob.
So, what's the way to go? Well, there are ways that you can seek to dial down the number of blemishes you do have. A nightly double cleanse to remove all of the days's muck and exfoliating with products like salicylic acid, to dissolve a build up of sebum in your pores are both worth a crack, to prevent them from taking hold in the first place.
But what about when they're already here?
WH asked Kate Bancroft, a nurse and skincare expert at Face the Future skincare, for her advice.
The best spot treatment, from whiteheads to cysts
WH: First off: is there any overarching advice you'd give to someone wondering how to get rid of spots on their face?
KB: Spot treatment-wise, I’m generally against picking or squeezing any type of blemish. A lot of the time, you can end up damaging the skin (causing things like infection, inflammation, scarring) by pushing the spot's contents further into the skin.
Professional extractions – when done in the right way – can be beneficial to some, but this must be carefully assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Best spot treatment for acne
WH: What causes acne – and how should women think about treating it?
KB: Acne is a common skin condition that can prevent itself at any age, not just during puberty. In fact we have seen a substantial increase in adult acne cases at our clinic over the last decade.
The cause of acne can be down to a number of factors and while diet, lifestyle, medication and cosmetics all play their role, the main factor is down to hormones and/or stress. Although we can’t stabilise hormonal influences, we can teach the skin to deal with it better.
Great home care products such as Danne Montague King range can help normalise cellular turnover, help to control oil production and minimise bacterial involvement.
Best spot treatment for blackheads
WH: Okay great. So let's talk about the best spot treatment for the types of blemishes that we all deal with. What are blackheads?
KB: Blackheads (open comedones) appear when excess oil from our sebaceous glands mixes with dead skin cells, which then gets trapped in our pores.
When this combination is exposed to air, it oxidises and turns black, hence the name.
WH: How should they be treated?
KB: Using a salicylic acid-based product is a great way to help keep blackheads at bay. The Medik8 Blemish Control Pads are great – simply sweep them over the skin two to three times a week.
WH: Anything to avoid?
KB: I would heavily advise against squeezing blackheads, as you’re likely to cause more damage to your skin. For manual extraction seek the skills of a facialist.
Best spot treatment for whiteheads
WH: And what about whiteheads?
KB: These come about in the same way as a blackhead, except they haven't been exposed to air yet and therefore haven't oxidised. The result? A white appearance instead of a black one.
WH: What's the best spot treatment for them?
KB: Whiteheads are harder to deal with than blackheads, as they have a much smaller opening. For that reason, whiteheads should be extracted by a professional, otherwise you risk creating permanent damage to your skin.
WH: And how should we treat them?
KB: Again, chemical exfoliation is the best way to prevent whiteheads appearing in the first place. Salicylic Acid is my favourite acid for this purpose.
Best spot treatment for pustules
WH: And what are pustules?
KB: Pustules indicate the involvement of bacteria and arise when our white blood cells are activated to help fight any potential infection.
Of course, the tendency is to then pick or squeeze to remove the unattractive white pimple, but this risks spreading any potential infection.
WH: What's the best spot treatment, here?
KB: My best advice is not to pick and use products that help minimise any bacterial involvement, such as Benzyl Peroxide , which you would need a prescription for.
In terms of best acne treatment? There are non-prescription alternatives like Danne Montague King Acu Klear that help dry these white-headed spots up quickly.
Best spot treatment for cysts
WH: And cysts? What are these and how do we get rid of spots under the skin?
KB: Cysts are generally painful, hard lumps, surrounded by redness as an inflammatory response to significant bacteria which is congregating in the area.
They involve significant bacterial involvement and can lead to scarring, if not carefully managed.
WH: How should we deal with them?
KB: Always seek help from a skin specialist to deal with these unwelcome guests. [If you do think you may have cystic acne, read up on the WH guide to handling it and getting the pro treatment you need.]