I've been really lucky when it comes to breakouts. I've written about them, I've had a few pop up from time to time, and I've recommended products to zap them, but I've really never suffered from the frustrating woes of teenage or adult acne. That being said, something recently changed. Perhaps it's because I've recently ascended into my almost-late-20s (I'm not complaining-I feel wise), but now whenever I break out, no matter how small or inconsequential the actual pimple is, it leaves behind a red mark long after it clears up. It is so annoying. How are acne scars and discoloration problems only just startingВ to plague me now? Aren't these years supposed to be zit-free?
I spoke with celebrity esthetician RenГ©e Rouleau, Seed to Serum's Megan Schwarz, and dermatologist Carl ThornfeldtВ for their expert opinions and advice on why this is happening and how to make it stop. Like, immediately.
Keep reading for their sage guidance on how to reduce redness from acne.01 of 04
Why is This Happening?
Rouleau explains: вЂњRedness can be caused by trauma to the skin cells caused from aggressively picking at blemishes.В Picking at the skin can leave a red post-breakout mark long after the infection disappears. Whether or not you picked at your blemish (hopefully not), it's common to be left with a red, dark, or purple mark that can hang around for weeks.вЂќ It feels like she's explaining my exact situation, to be honest. Sometimes I pick (eek, sorry!), and sometimes I'm really good about keeping my hands to myself.
She continues, вЂњIt leaves a scar because it stretches and damages the surrounding tissue, resulting in increased melanin activity. This is considered to be a scar, but it will fade with time by using a skin lightener and increasing exfoliation. Also, infections can cause a blemish to be red and inflamed.вЂќ
Thornfeldt adds: вЂњInflammation is the body's natural response mechanism to heal itself. Unfortunately, when it goes on too long, inflammation can become very harmful to the skin-this is when we see dark spots where the acne lesion was. This is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. So, the redness is the skin still creating inflammation as it's healing the area.В Another factor is dilation of the blood vessels. This occurs due to the increased nutritional needs of the inflamed lesions since the cells are excessively active. Those vessels may take six to 12 weeks to completely shrink, so often the older lesions have a purple hue as the rest of the inflammation resolves.вЂќ
Then, Schwarz brought in the age factor I had been worrying about:В вЂњAdditionally, as we age, our skin's renewal process begins to slow, allowing discoloration to linger anywhere from a few monthsВ to a full year (or longer!). You'll often notice that hyperpigmentation on your cheeks is particularly stubborn.вЂќ02 of 04
How Can I Prevent It?
Rouleau adamantly exclaims, вЂњDo not pick your skin!В Picking at a blemish will no doubt result in a red, irritated mess. For starters, ice it down. The cold helps to reduce both redness and swelling caused from picking at a blemish. Apply an ice cube directly to the blemish, and leave it on for 10 minutes. Then, apply a blemish treatment appropriate for the type you're dealing with. I've even created a 'No Picking Skin Contract'В that you can sign to commit to keeping your hands off your face. I promise you'll have clearer skin with fewer scars.вЂќ
Thornfeldt advises, вЂњThe best way to prevent the inflammation is to use acne products that have anti-inflammatory properties in them. I recommend my patients use an Epionce Lytic product. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet will also help, and avoid foods which increase inflammation including caffeine, chocolate, sugar, starch, alcohol, and spicy foods.03 of 04
What Should I Do to Treat It?
Rouleau suggests wearing sunscreen as a really great way to treat red spots, in addition to using the appropriate blemish treatment. вЂњWearing sunscreen can help expedite the healing and fading process. If the affected skin is exposed to daylight, the UV rays stimulate the melanin cells-even if it's cloudy outside-making the scar darker and redder in color and visible longer.вЂќ
Thornfeldt adds, вЂњAfter the lesion is gone, continue to apply topical anti-inflammatory products along with a product that is going to help repair and fortify the skin barrier-so the skin can become healthy as quickly as possible. Spearmint tea and green tea especially help these clear faster as well.вЂќ04 of 04
What Products Should I Use?Stocksy
Rouleau explains, вЂњThe RenГ©e RouleauВ Post-Breakout Fading GelВ ($41) is a spot treatment to lighten and fade red, dark, or purple scars and spots left behind from blemishes on the skin. This product uses a blend of gentle brighteners and exfoliating acids to lift discoloration and fade stubborn acne marks. You'll see a dramatically noticeable improvement in promoting even-toned skin with continued use. This gel contains white tea extract, which contains anti-inflammatory tea to soothe signs of redness and irritation, andВ lactic/amino acid complex, which provides cellular turnover with minimum irritation.вЂќRenГ©e Rouleau Post-Breakout Fading Gel $41Shop
Thornfeldt has a few favorites as well: вЂњI recommend all of my patients, with or without acne, use an Epionce Renewal Facial CreamВ ($75). Also, if your skin is especially susceptible to dark spots, I recommend a hydroquinone-free lightening product to keep the PIH at bay. My go-to is the Epionce MelanoLyte TxВ ($69) and MelanoLyte Pigment Perfection SerumВ ($99).вЂќ
Schwarz loves all-natural products to help with redness and irritation post-breakout. She says, вЂњLet's face it: Not every breakout can be prevented. So when redness and discoloration strike, fight back with gentle exfoliation to encourage cellular renewal and vitamin C and licorice extract to naturally lighten hyperpigmentation. My favorite redness-taming products include Laurel Facial SerumВ ($88), Kypris Moonlight CatalystВ ($98), and De Mamiel Brightening Cleanse & ExfoliateВ ($70).вЂќLaurel Unburden Serum $88ShopEpionce MelanoLyte Pigment Perfecting Serum $99ShopKypris Moonlight Catalyst $98ShopDe Mamiel Brightening Cleanse & Exfoliate $70Shop
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This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.В