I Have Blemishes. Now What?
Imagine waking up on the day of a big presentation, a first date, a big family holiday, and the first thing you see in the mirror is an unsightly blemish staring back at you. A bit dramatic? Maybe, but we are all guilty of thinking our blemishes walk in the room before we do. While this is absolutely an exaggeration made up in our minds, they are certainly not a welcome addition to anyone’s day.
What is a Blemish?
A blemish is a mark that appears on our skin, defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a noticeable imperfection.” Though harsh-sounding, when one of these marks appears on our face, the word perfectly fits the description.
Blemishes can be caused by innumerable factors. Hormones play a huge role; it is well-known that most of our first blemishes appear as we reach puberty. After this blossoming of hormonal excretion ruins middle school and high school yearbooks, the overproduction of blemishes seems to taper off. That is, until we become adults and even more hormonal changes, stress, decades of sun damage, and clogged pores finally take their toll.
Skin type and genetics are also something to keep in mind. Some people are more naturally blemish-prone than others, which can be incredibly frustrating. Also, skin changes over time, fluctuating with the way our bodies change, the weather, and varying stress factors that impact our day-to-day lives. There is no one central cause to blemishes, as there are many contributors.
Types of Blemishes
Blemishes come in many different forms. It’ll be easier to know how to treat your blemish if you know which kind you have.
When it comes to types of acne, blackheads and whiteheads are probably the most recognizable. They are the irritating, painful little bumps that show up on your face after that extra slice of pizza, filled with oil, bacteria, and even dirt. Hormonal changes can also contribute the formation of acne, causing more breakouts in your formative years and, if applicable, around the time of your menstrual cycle.
Ingrown hairs are exactly as they sound. Sweat, dirt, and bacteria usually stops hair from growing properly and breaking through the skin, causing redness and general discomfort. Ingrown hairs can happen anywhere, but may be more prominent wherever people shave (think bikini-line or under the neck).
Scars are marks in the dermis where the skin has been damaged and healed by a different type of tissue because the wound or opening couldn’t heal under normal circumstances. They are characterized by being a shade differententiating from the color of your natural skin tone.
Age spots are dark spots on the skin that are attributed to sun exposure. UV rays cause greater melanin production, and occasionally a congregation of pigmented cells appears. These are typically more visible in those who are older and have had decades of sun exposure.
Hyperpigmentation is just a changing of the color of the skin due to the over-activation of melanin. Damage from the sun, acne scarring, and hormonal changes can all contribute to some form of hyperpigmentation.
Cold sores are sore-like bumps that arise from the Herpes Simplex Virus. These bumps can be very painful and unsightly, and can lie dormant or become active again at any time (particularly when stressed).
This is an incredibly common skin issue typically confused for melanoma and more commonly found in women. Its main symptom is skin discoloration, appearing predominately on the face. This is a benign and painless condition, but it’s never a bad idea to keep tabs on how your skin is behaving as you grow older.
Skin cancer can be either a deeply serious or completely benign skin condition, characterized by small, pigmented blemishes that are the result of cancerous cells. Some common skin cancers include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. It’s important to speak with your doctor if you have small, pigmented marks (that may look like moles) to ensure that they are not malignant.
Treatment and Prevention
Treating and preventing some of these blemishes can be simple, while others will be increasingly difficult. Because the skin can be so sensitive, it is difficult to pinpoint one foolproof skin care product or routine that will do the trick, so you have to have some imagination and patience when making attempts for clearer, healthier.
Blemishes may occasionally be caused by an allergy to something in your everyday life or that you came across. Normally swelling, redness, and potential itchiness are symptoms of an allergic reaction. If you notice flaky, dead skin cells, a sudden rash, or an area of breakouts after eating something, wearing something, or being around something your body doesn’t like, try to remember what it was and avoid it in the future.
Different skin types require different solutions. If your pores contain excess oil, you may have better luck with a cleanser containing salicylic acid, or an astringent. However, if you have dry skin, then you will want to avoid products that tend to dry your skin out like an astringent.
You also have to be careful when handling pimples, as popping them may lead to dark marks and scars. You shouldn’t pop them, but should instead reduce them in size by using a cold compress, or even green tea bags on the affected area. When you can’t resist the urge however, make sure popped pimples are popped all the way and that you carefully clean out the area with an antiseptic agent like benzoyl peroxide.
Dark Mark and Hyperpigmentation Treatment
Sunscreen, regardless of the weather, is the best way to prevent dark marks and hyperpigmentation from appearing on your skin. Creams that include SPF 30 in their formula are typically a more cost-effective option, while treatment for these conditions may be a little more invasive and expensive. Dermatologic procedures can assist with getting to a new layer of skin; however, this can be painful and a lot more involved than simply wearing sunscreen.
Viral or Bacterial Treatments
For any blemish that may be caused by a viral or bacterial agent, medical intervention will most likely be required. Most of the treatments for these types of blemishes require a prescription for an antiviral or antibacterial agent. Unfortunately, however, some of these viruses don’t have cures, so you will simply be managing an ongoing skin condition.
It’s best to talk to your doctor if any of your blemishes begin to grow in size, bleed, itch, or become of any concern to you. It’s also important to take internet searches with a grain of salt. Sometimes, search engines take our description of a blemish and diagnose us with something must more serious than what we actually have. When in doubt, give your doctor a call or set up a virtual appointment.
Maintain Proper Hygiene
Working out, eating well, and hydrating are the most important things you can do for your body, inside and out. Hydrating your skin, sweating out toxins, and improving blood vessel circulation will have positive effects on the healing processes of daily assaults to your skin.
You can supplement these activities with natural remedies; such as witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, and aloe vera. Just make sure you don’t have any allergies to these materials, so that you can completely reap the benefits of their anti-inflammatory properties, moisturize, and kill harmful bacteria all at once.
Finally, if you constantly practice good hygiene and wash your face and body, you can eliminate oily bacteria before it becomes a problem. Creating routines that help you get in the habit of exfoliating, cleaning yourself with intentionally designed creams or skin care products, and calming your senses for a peaceful night’s sleep will make a world of difference in tackling blemishes.