We have all been there when we are looking forward to a special event and then suddenly there’s an unwanted visitor on our face. Spots may appear for several reasons including the consuming of junk food or changes in hormone levels due to increased stress or puberty. Breakouts tend to be most common throughout teenage years however, spots and pimples can continue to be present during adulthood. Spots and blemishes come in several different forms including:
Blackheads - also known as ‘Open Comedones’’ are one of the most common forms of spots, especially on those with oily skin. Blackheads form because of hair follicles becoming clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells. This can then form a bump which when exposed to air (if the bump opens) can cause the area to look black.
Whiteheads - also known as ‘Closed Comedones’ are the sister to black heads. White heads are also caused by oil and dead skin cells clogging up a hair follicle but in this case, it is completely blocked and unable to open at all.
Inflamed red spots (papules) – This is when an area of the skin has become inflamed underneath the surface and as a result, small pink/red bumps form. The bumps can often be sensitive however, you should avoid trying to pop them as it could lead to scarring.
Inflamed yellow spots (pustules) – Pustules are inflamed pimples that are often white or yellow in the middle with a red ring around it. This type of spot is usually filled with pus and can leave dark marks on the skin if they are picked at.
Acne (Acne Vulgaris) – Commonly occurring in individuals throughout their teenage years through to their 20’s, acne can appear in many different forms. Breakouts are mainly on the face however, it’s not uncommon for it to be found on the back, chest, and shoulders. Often, puberty has a lot to do with acne forming.
Nodules – These hard bumps are found deep under the surface of the skin. They are often painful and feel quite firm to touch.
Cysts – One of the larger forms of a spot, cysts are lesions on the skin that are filled with pus. As you can imagine, they can be very painful to touch and if handled incorrectly, they can lead to serious scarring on the face.
Why Am I Getting Spots?
You may be wondering why it is that you are developing sports suddenly. Well, the truth is, it could be for a whole range of reasons. Spots can form on all areas of the face but there may be a specific cause behind where they are popping up.
Cheeks – When spots are present on your cheeks, it could be a sign that the pillows you sleep on are dirty. It could be caused by a build-up of bacteria from touching your face frequently or having your phone so close to your face.
Chin/Jaw/Neck – One of the more common places to have a blemish is around your chin and your jaw line. The main contributor being a change in hormones. Women and girls may experience an increase in breakouts when they are expecting or are on their period. Spots in this area of the face may also be a sign of stress.
T-Zone (forehead & nose) – Spots forming on your forehead and around your nose could be caused by quite a few different factors such as consuming too much alcohol or coffee. However, it could also be down to puberty and an increase in stress levels.
Although we are unable to fully prevent spots from forming, there are a few healthy habits which we should follow to minimise the chances of them appearing.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help to reduce spots. If you do not consume enough liquid throughout the day, your body will become dehydrated. This may increase the skins natural oil production, causing it to over produce oil. As a result, the skin could form spots which will become inflamed and red.
Wearing makeup all the time will cause your pores to become clogged up and form spots. To minimise the chances of this happening, try to only wear small amounts of makeup or avoid wearing It when you are not going anywhere special. If you do wear makeup, make sure to clean your face with a gentle cleanser (especially before you go to bed). Sleeping in makeup can be detrimental to skin health as it will cause dirt to become trapped and increase the chances of spots forming.
Understanding which type of skin you have can be helpful when understanding what you should and shouldn’t be using on your face. Without some knowledge behind what is suitable for your skin, you could be promoting breakouts. Here is a quick breakdown of the main types of skin:
Oily – Large pores and skin that looks shiny throughout the day
Dry – Skin usually feels tight and flaky
Sensitive – Skin that gets easily irritated and red
Combination – You experience both Oily and dry areas on the skin with the oily area usually being around your chin, nose, and forehead.
If you would like to understand more about what type of skin you have, check out our recent blog “What are the 5 skin types”
What To Do When Spots Appear
It's inevitable that we will get a couple of spots every now and again even if we stick to healthy skincare habits. Perhaps the most important thing to do when a pimple starts to show is to leave it alone, DO NOT PICK, POP, or SQUEEZE IT! We all know how satisfying popping a spot can be however, squeezing the life out of the pimple could cause it to scar whilst it heals.
You may be tempted to avoid using cleanser whilst you have a breakout. Especially, if your blemishes are sore. But, ensuring that your skin is clean from any dirt and bacteria is very important. Avoid using harsh makeup wipes and instead use a cleanser that is suited for your skin type. This will help to repair the skin's outer layer whilst protecting it from any damage.
Avoid applying makeup to cover up the spot as this will cause it to become more irritated. Lathering your blemish in concealer may clog up your pores even more. Instead, opt for the makeup free look and let your skin breathe. This will allow your spot to heal up on its own.
Consult with your doctor if you notice that you are experiencing an abnormal number of spots forming on your skin. They may be able to prescribe you with a suitable treatment.
Spots can often be frustrating when they come as a surprise. It is important to remember that everyone gets them and there are ways to help you treat them. You are not alone in the fight against spots. If you feel anxious or depressed in any way due to the impact of having breakouts, there are always people there to offer advice and guidance.
Here are some links to organisations that can offer help and support -
Talk Acne - https://www.talkhealthpartnership.com/talkacne/
Mind - https://www.mind.org.uk/