Stop picking at your skin!

Most of the people tend to believe that pimples are for teenagers, but that’s not true! Pimples (acne, zits, spots) affect the skin of a significant number of adults. The average age of acne patients has now increased from 20 to 26 years old. Millions of adults are experiencing acne for the first time since in the last few decades acne rates are rising — contradicting the belief that this condition is caused by genes. If you’ve been there before, you know that the presence of pimples on the skin, especially the face, may cause anxiety or embarrassment. Although pimples are not in themselves bad for overall health, living with them, especially if they are persistent and become a long-term problem can be as devastating emotionally as living with a chronic disease.

“I just can’t stop thinking about the pimple! When I’m talking to people, I always stare them straight in the eye to watch if their pupils wander to other places on my face where I have a zit. And they usually do..”, says Michelle, a member of an online acne support group. And according to a recent study she is right. At least, these were the results reported by University of Sheffield psychologist Tracey Grandfield and her colleagues in an issue of the Journal of Health Psychology. The authors found that, compared with our ratings of clear-skinned individuals, we’re quick to associate unpleasant concepts (brutal, bad, ugly, angry, aggressive) with acne sufferers.

Unfortunately, there’s no magical trick that can make the pimple vanish. However, there are several long-term tactics that could help you fight those monsters!


Traditionally dermatologists believed there was no link between diet and pimples, but emerging evidence suggests certain foods and drinks may cause or trigger acne in some people. Getting healthy skin and clearing up acne truly depend on the optimal function of many of the core systems of the body — your nutritional status, your immune system, your gut, your hormones and your mind-body health. Researchers from New York University reported in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that a diet high in dairy products and high glycemic index foods increases the risk of developing pimples. The scientists also suggest that using MNT (medical nutrition therapy) may help reduce the number and severity of acne outbreaks. There are certain foods commonly eaten by adolescents in our culture that can cause acne. These foods include soft drinks, sugary snacks and white bread. So if you want to avoid pimples you should opt for harder, nuttier, chewier foods, such as: wholemeal pasta, low-GI basmati rice and brown rice, grainy breads and flours, low-GI fruits like rockmelon and apple. It’s also wise to avoid drinking too much juice, as it increases sugar levels and insulin. Go for fresh fruit instead. 

Washing your face

By that we mean twice each day - not more often. Make sure you have a mild soap. Use warm water. Wash gently; do not scrub the skin. Experts advise the use of an OTC lotion which contains benzoyl peroxide. Remember not to over-cleansing your skin. Harsh scrubs, abrasive exfoliating pads and lots and lots of cleansing. 



Does this sound like your typical skin-care routine? If it does, stop! Constantly using really abrasive scrubs can do more harm than good. Vigorous scrubbing can irritate the skin, aggravate inflammation and tear the tops off pimples. A good indicator that you're scrubbing too hard: Your skin looks really red or burns and stings afterwards.

Do not pop the pimple

Picking and doing self-surgery is so bad. You can cause an infection, and you can actually make the pimples worse. When you are squashing a pimple, you’re often pushing stuff back down into your skin when you squeeze. So even if you get that one out, you might be irritating another one right next door to it. We know it’s hard to stop picking, and sometimes people lose sense of time, so here’s a useful advice from Dr. Amy Wechsler, double board-certified dermatologist and psychiatrist: “I will have people put up sticky notes in the bathroom that say things like, ‘Don’t pick!’, ‘Stop picking!’, ‘Don’t touch your face!’ People get into this state where they are not really mindful of what they’re doing, so that kind of a note helps jolt them back into reality like, ‘Ah, I have to stop that,’ is actually really helpful.”

Touching your face

Between turning door knobs, typing feverishly on your iPhone and tying shoelaces, your hands come in contact with millions of germs. This makes them your greatest skincare enemy. Even though this may require some willpower, try to refrain from touching your face with your hands. Spend one day paying extra-close attention to your behaviour. If you notice that you touch your face a lot—even if you’re just brushing your bangs out of your eyes—try to stop yourself. Eventually, it will become habit. If you are using a telephone, do not let receiver touch the skin of your face - it may have skin residue or sebum on it. Also keep your hands and nails as clean as you can by washing them regularly with soap. Keep your nails short.

Loose clothing

If you’re prone to body acne, wear loose clothing. Whenever possible, avoid wearing headbands, caps and scarves - if you have to wear them, wash them regularly. In short - allow your skin to breathe. If you go to the gym often (good for you!) try to pick workout clothes that are made with fabrics that help to wick sweat away from the skin and avoid garments made of 100% lycra or nylon like the plague. Why? Synthetic fabrics of any type can trap heat and moisture against your skin. This creates a great  breeding ground for the bacteria that causes acne. Always wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing made of cotton or other natural fabrics (wool, hemp, etc.) Blends (like lycra-cotton) are okay, but not ideal. After your workout, or simply following a good sweat, take a shower to wash away all the dirt and grime that has built up on your moist skin.

And remember, you aren’t alone in your distress, but save some worrying for those slowly gestating, well-earned wrinkles to come.

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