It's your skin's worst nightmare: a huge pimple on your face, and you can't even pop it. Those annoying blemishes that haven't yet surfaced could stick around for weeks that sometimes turn into months if not treated properly. So, what's the best way to tackle those zits deep beneath the top layer of skin? First, it's important to understand what causes the breakouts to become trapped in the subcutaneous layer. We turned to Mona Gohara, M.D., an expert in medical and procedural dermatology, to find out the smartest way to tackle the problem.
Dr. Gohara explained, "Pimples come in three varieties, comedonal (white head/blackhead), inflammatory (little pus bumps under the skin) and deep cysts. They are all caused by a combination of hormones, increased oil production, irregular shedding of skin cells, and bacteria." All of these conditions can lead to inflammation that may become buried in the subcutaneous layer of the skin. "Those with more sebaceous or oily skin, and or those who have a family history of acne may be more likely to have inflammatory or cystic acne," added Dr. Gohara.
Either way, you'll need a good beauty regimen to speed up the usually slow healing process. "Avoid harsh toners, or alcohol based products that are marketed for acne that can dry out the skin, and in return cause more inflammation, redness, and irritation," said Dr. Gohara. She also highly recommends avoiding the temptation of trying to pick or pop the pimple. "It can leave you with unsightly discoloration or—even worse—scarring," which is tough to clear up.
Instead, the skin expert suggests washing your face each night with a mild, non-soap cleanser. We like Boscia Purifying Cleansing Gel ($28; boscia.com), because it doesn't contain sulfates, which makes it perfect for those who are sensitive. Dr. Gohara also recommends exfoliating to speed up the process of removing dead skin cells. Try Philosophy Micro Delivery Exfoliating Wash ($28; ulta.com) for its effective, yet gentle formula. Renée Rouleau Anti Cyst Treatment ($43; reneerouleau.com) also works wonders unblocking seriously clogged pores. And don't forget to moisturize. "Moisturization can help keep the skin healthy and acne free," she added.
Looking for a DIY fix? Dr. Gohara has a couple favorites using ingredients that are more than likely already in your home. "Crush an aspirin and put it in a little water, to make a paste. Place the mixture directly on the pimple and leave it on over night." The doctor went on to recommend adding a dab of tea tree oil and a cream containing 2.5% benzoyl peroxide ($32; sephora.com) to solidify your arsenal and successfully fight off those stubborn zits.