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The Ultimate Guide to Fighting Zits
Skin & Body
Zap those pesky pimples, no matter where they pop up.
Acne always seems to pop up when you least expect it—in the last place you ever wanted it to be. Whether it's your forehead, your back, or even inside your ear (yep, we get those, too), these pesky flare-ups can be a pain in the butt to deal with. But, before you start slathering on every (and any) product you can get your hands on, heed this warning: Not all acne should be treated equally.
Acne body placement has a lot to do with how you go about ridding yourself of it—for good. What's the solution? We talked to dermatologist Craig Kraffert, M.D., founder of Amarte, about zapping zits based on where they pop up. With these tips, you can launch a full-scale attack that will work instead of just trying 100 things that don't.
"Treating acne here really has to do with the severity of the acne," says Kraffert. The flare-ups you see here can range from blackheads, to red bumps, to pustules, to huge goose egg-like nodules. But, for the most part, you'll be dealing with moderate acne, which forms when the pilosebaceous glands get clogged but still continue to produce oil.
When it comes to this type of acne on your forehead, cleansing and retinoids are your best bet. "A lot of people will start scrubbing their foreheads aggressively, which will only aggravate the problem," says Kraffert.
Instead, a gentle cleanser coupled with rentinoids is a dynamic duo. "The most important tip is to continue to use these, even after the acne clears," says Kraffert. "Otherwise, it will likely come back."
The fact that you can’t seem to clear up your nose doesn't mean you're nuts—Kraffert says that these guys are notoriously difficult to get spot-free. "This is where there is the densest population of large oil glands," he explains. "That's why they tend to get inflamed so easily.
While you can double down on your retinoids and use them twice a day on your nose (if you don't have ultra-sensitive skin, that is), Kraffert says that the best course of action is getting an Rx. Doxycycline and tetracycline are the two most commonly prescribed medications for these issues, but talk to your doctor if you're interested in learning more.
You can thank your hormones and your mother for that big honker on your chin. "Most acne in this area is hormonal and genetic," says Kraffert.
And, the truth of the matter is, oral contraceptives that are prescribed for acne control don't always work well." Instead, reach for your retinoids and gentle cleansers to eliminate the acne, and continue to use them even after your zits have cleared.
If what you're seeing around your chin doesn't resemble traditional acne, though, it could be something completely different. "Perioral dermatitis is a condition that women get that isn't acne or rosacea," says Kraffert. "It's a rosacea-like condition that doesn't respond to acne treatments."
Perioral dermatitis looks like acne flares but are flatter and show up around your mouth and nose. If you feel like this is what you may have, talk to your dermatologist about treatment options. Kraffert notes that tetracycline is typically what clears it up.
Yes, folks. We all get zits burrowed in our ears sometimes. "This is something I've seen for years," says Kraffert. There isn't really a reason why they happen—they're just one of those pesky issues that pop up to make our lives hell. But treatment is totally possible. "Reach for your topicals, like a retinoid, to help clear up the issue," says Kraffert.
Back and Chest
"There are very interesting issues with your chest and back," says Kraffert. "The areas that tend to get inflamed cover such a wide area, that topical treatments don't tend to get the job done." There's also the pesky issue of benzoyl peroxide bleaching your clothes—not practical on your back or chest.
Although it tends to be controversial, an antibiotic like Accutane may be your best course of action. "When doctors think about prescribing Accutane, they take into consideration how widespread an area the breakouts cover," says Kraffert.
"Since acne on the back and chest covers such a wide surface area, Accutane is actually extremely effective." If you aren't 100 percent comfortable or convinced when it comes to Accutane, talk to your dermatologist. Other options are limited, but they are out there.
If Accutane seems a little too hardcore for you, there are plenty of over-the-counter, non-spot treatments, like a body wash with salicylic acid, that can help clear you up. The important thing to remember is to continue using these even when you don't have spots, and always wash the area immediately after a good sweat session.
Here's a newsflash: Booty bumps aren't typically acne. "They actually tend to be a condition called keratosis pillaris, which is when the protein keratin clogs your hair follicles," says Kraffert. That's a bummer for anyone hoping to rid your bum of acne because keratosis pillars isn't that easy to treat. Kraffert also says a medicated moisturizer that has beta hydroxy in it can help. "Glycolic and lactic acids are also good for issues like this," says Kraffert.
He also notes that Accutane and other antibiotics don't cure keratosis pillaris. "There isn't a 'cure' for it," he says.
"It's a totally unmet medical need, which is something we're hoping changes."
This article was written in Women's Health Magazine. And this article was written by Maria Del Russo and repurposed with permission from Refinery29.