Skin Purging Or New Pimples? Know How To Identify And Avoid Purging

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Skin Purging Or New Pimples? Know How To Identify And Avoid Purging

Let’s learn in detail about this phenomenon, how it can be differentiated from pimples and what are the ways to treat it from one of the top dermatologists, Dr. Nivedita Dadu. 

Skin Purging Or New Pimples? Know How To Identify And Avoid Purging

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Whenever you start using a new product to treat your pimples or acne, you’ll notice more pimples are popping. Well, there’s nothing to worry about as your skin is getting rid of all the harmful toxins. And this kind of breakout is known as ‘Purging’.

What is Purging?

According to Dr. Dadu, when you use a certain product, especially a cream to treat pimples, your dead cells exfoliate, due to which your skin softens, whiteheads and blackheads reduce, pimples become dry, skin pigmentation lightens, and pores unclog. These are the good results of applying a pimple cream, but it is quite possible that in the initial weeks, you may have red bumps on your face or pimples filled with pus and your skin may look even worse than before. This skin condition is known as purging. 

It occurs because when your dead cells exfoliate, a few micro-comedones that are present underneath your skin, break out and bring all the dead skin cells, bacteria, oil and dirt beneath your skin, to the surface. Purging is good for your skin as it throws out all the accumulated dirt, dead cells and chemicals absorbed and stored by your skin.

Purging or New Pimples - How to Differentiate?

Whether your skin is purging, or new pimples are breaking out, it is a bit difficult to differentiate as both conditions look quite similar. Here are a few ways recommended by Dr. Dadu by which you can easily identify skin purging.

  • Purging takes place only where you have applied a pimple cream, so if pimples are breaking out from other areas, then it’s not purging. For example, if pimples are popping from your forehead where you haven’t applied the cream then they are new pimples
  • Purging occurs only for three to four weeks after you start applying a pimple cream. If it continues to occur after this period, then it’s quite possible that it's not purging
  • As purging occurs only due to the exfoliation of dead skin cells, it can be caused only when you apply creams that exfoliate like Salicylic acid, Glycolic acid, Retinol, Tretinoin and Benzoyl Peroxide. If it is occurring due to creams like niacinamide and clindamycin, then it’s not purging as non-exfoliating molecules cannot lead to this skin condition. These creams may cause allergy, sensitivity or redness but not purging

How to Avoid Purging?

If you just started applying a pimple cream, then you must follow the below tips in the initial days to avoid purging

  • Apply the cream on alternate days or twice a week
  • Instead of applying it overnight, keep it only for 3-4 hours a day

By shortening the duration of usage of the pimple cream, you can reduce the chances of skin purging.

How to Treat Purging?

If purging still occurs even after following the above tips, then you need to consider these recommendations by Dr. Dadu.

  • Change the moisturiser: You must shift to bland moisturisers as they are soothing for your skin and help in reducing redness and sensitivity
  • Use a mild & gentle salicylic acid-based face wash: Don’t use face washes meant for oily skin as they will make your skin more dry. Instead, use a face wash that reduces sensitivity and keeps your skin hydrated and moisturised
  • Never miss out on sunscreen: Even if your skin is not sensitive, it is good to apply sunscreen but if it is, then it becomes necessary that you don’t skip sunscreen

Lastly, if none of the options work and you do not see any improvement in your skin condition even after three to four weeks, then you must discontinue the medication and see a dermatologist.

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