Everyone wants nice skin. I mean, it’s kind of all over your body and is the largest component of your face, so it’s pretty noticeable. The word “blemish” in this sense is a catch-all term for any imperfection in your skin. Let’s face it, not everyone has skin like a movie star because most people don’t have their own personal team of stylists to hide their flaws. Blemishes plague many teens and adults due to acne, scarring, or other skin conditions. Acne is the most common skin problem, and it’s caused by glands producing too much sebum (the oil on your skin), bacteria on your skin, or skin that sheds improperly. If you’ve looked into getting rid of acne before, you may have noticed that there are about a million and ten different products on the market for that purpose. It may take some trial and error, but you’ll probably be able to find something that works for you—you just have to know what to look for. If you’ve exhausted all of the over-the-counter options, a dermatologist will be your best source of information for treating your blemishes.
Treatment for Skin Blemishes
Take care of your skin every day to reduce the appearance of blemishes. Wash your face with a cleanser that is geared toward solving your skin’s issues: oil, dryness, blackheads, etc. Harsh scrubs can worsen acne, so choose something gentle and don’t wash too frequently—once or twice a day is fine. Don’t touch your problem area or pick or squeeze pimples. Avoid products that can aggravate acne: oily makeup, lotion, or sunscreen. Too much sun is bad for skin—not just because of cancer issues; it can also irritate acne.
There is no shortage of OTC products to try out. I haven’t counted them all or anything, but I don’t think my earlier estimate can be too far off. There are washes, scrubs, lotions, spot treatments, medicated wipes, face masks . . . and on and on. Common active ingredients are salicylic or lactic acid, sulfur, and benzoyl peroxide. These products help to clear off dead skin cells, kill bacteria, and/or dry facial oil. Sometimes your skin might become more irritated right after starting something new, but it’ll calm down and start improving acne after a few weeks.
If OTC options don’t do it for you, try prescription acne medications. Head to your favorite local dermatologist who can diagnose exactly what’s going on with your skin and prescribe a course of action to get rid of it. Common ingredients in prescription meds are retinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene. Combinations of clindamycin, benzoyl peroxide, and erythromycin are also often successful. Your dermatologist can monitor progress and switch tactics if something isn’t working; she can also tell you how to minimize possible side effects like burning or redness.
Other prescription meds can reduce the appearance of blemishes. Prescriptions for conditions other than acne, like antibiotics or birth control, can improve your skin’s health. Antibiotics fight bacterial infection and can reduce inflammation for all sorts of health problems, and acne is no exception. Hormone levels fluctuate throughout the month for women, and for some, that means breakouts. Oral contraceptives regulate hormones leaving skin clearer; this goes along with the bonus of staying baby-free. Obviously this option is for females only.
Cosmetic procedures are an alternative to medication. These would include chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and light or laser therapy. The first two are especially good for acne scarring (or any scars for that matter). Chemical peels and microdermabrasion essentially remove the top layer of skin, which makes skin smoother. Light or laser therapy aims at damaging sebaceous glands—those things to blame for too much oil on skin—in order to lower the level of sebum produced. Just know that immediately following such procedures your skin can become extremely irritated, red, and sensitive for a short period of time.
For Blemishes Unrelated to Acne
There are tons of different things that can be going on with your skin that can contribute to imperfections in your complexion. Some blemishes are purely cosmetic concerns, such as scars, moles (that aren’t irregular), warts, or the odd rash that might pop up. Warts can be removed at home or by a doctor, while moles can be removed only by a doctor. A mild bout of poison ivy or something similar can be treated at home with application of Benadryl and calamine lotion and by keeping it clean and not scratching it. You don’t need to worry much about the little stuff unless it doesn’t seem normal. Severe skin irritation from an allergy should be checked out and treated by your doctor, and if you have trouble breathing or swallowing along with your reaction, get to an emergency room immediately. If you notice a new mole somewhere or a change in a mole you already have, it’s a good idea to have it tested for skin cancer, especially if it is irregular in shape (not circular), color, or if it itches or bleeds. The sooner you get things of that nature taken care of, the better off you’ll be.