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Spot treatment: A guide to treating adult acne after it happens

Yesterday, I described my routine for preventing adult acne, and it has worked exceptionally well for me: I haven’t had a whitehead or cystic boil in months (I can’t even remember the last time it happened). Yet, I know it will happen, and I have an arsenal of products at the ready.

First, let’s break down the three most common types of acne I get: blackheads, whiteheads, and deep, painful, cystic boils. Blackheads are the most benign in terms of their impact on my life. Barely noticeable, usually smaller that a pin tip, they are little dots of trapped skin. Whiteheads, in contrast, are very noticeable. The start as red bumps and grow in size and pressure until they are a white bump on the skin that may or may not burst on its own. Whiteheads are the bane of my existence. Finally, cystic acne starts deep below the surface, and they feel huge. Some may eventually surface, to my relief, but until they do, trying to poke or prod them will only make them very angry. I get these rarely, but I remember each of them by name. Kind of kidding.

Blackhead spot treatment

Honestly, blackheads are so benign for me that I usually leave them alone and alone my regular routine (specifically the glycolic acid in the Framboos serum to exfoliate them off of my face. If I’m feeling desperate for them to be gone, I add a spot treatment of Salicylic acid (I like the Peter Thomas Roth Salicylic Acid), but I never try to extract them myself. A blackhead is tiny, but the scar I could create would be much more damaging to my skin and psyche.

Whitehead spot treatment

As I mentioned, whiteheads are my biggest challenge. I’ve found that nothing stops their eventual eruption on my face, so my goal in the initial stages is to get them to the whitehead stage as quickly as possible. Do not, under any circumstances, try to pop them before their terrible white head pops above the surface. This is your recipe for causing a ton of inflammation and, I’ve read, potentially spreading that yuck under your skin.* to get them to surface, I’ve tried applying a hot wet washcloth with literally zero success. I’ve had a bit more success with the blue light spot treatment, and even more success with the ZitSticka cystic acne dots (more about these below). But, my best option is to patiently wait for the inevitable surfacing. Once they surface, I’ll do what every dermatologist everywhere says not to do, I pop them. First, I wash my face and then, with salicylic acid on hand to sterilize post-pop, I will gently press with my ring fingers. If it doesn’t easily pop with just gentle pressure, I move away from the spot. It isn’t ready yet. To keep myself from messing with it, I’ll put on the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion treatment that should treat it a bit, but really just serves to keep my fingers away.

If it is ready, meaning it pops with a gentle touch, I let it ooze out, and then I clean the spot with LaRoche Posay micellar water and cover with salicylic acid. After it dries, I add a think layer of the miracle cream from iope Clinic Intensive Spot Shot, which is literally magic. This cream literally heals a spot in days, and any potential would is reduced in size and redness by at least half overnight. I never go anywhere without this cream. Please note that I’ve only ever been able to find this on amazon, and shipping takes like a month. Order it now, so you have it at the ready. Post-pop, I apply a thick layer of the Clinic treatment after cleansing, morning and night. Within a day, the wound is completely unnoticeable. Seriously.

Cystic acne spot treatment

Luckily, I don’t get these often, but when I do, they are so memorable, I don’t forget them. Again, not a dermatologist, but I’ve read that if you get cystic acne regularly, you should visit the dermatologist to see if you are a fit for prescription oral acne treatment. In the rare case when I do get cystic acne, the only thing that offers relief is the ZitSticka patches. I’ve tried all of the acne dots, and this is the only one that packs any punch for me. Honestly, I’m not sure it does work, but I feel like it diminishes the pain and inflammation from a cystic acne spot. Once the spot reaches the surface, which means there is visible white, I follow the same steps as above to pop it. Until then, I leave it mostly alone except to hold ice on it to temporarily reduce pain, redness, and swelling. Do not try to pop, at least until they reach whitehead stage. And then, do what you must. I’ve already admitted what I do.

I’m not a dermatologist, just someone with 36 years of experience treating my own acne. Take my advice with a grain of salt.

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