Skin Purging Or Breakout? How To Tell And What To Do

Did you know that not all blemishes that discolor your face are necessarily acne breakouts, but could be the skin purging toxins and healing itself? While it still may be upsetting to deal with like acne, a skin purge needs to be handled differently than acne to make sure your skin appears healthy polished and well nourished.

What is Skin Purging?

Skin purging is the process of the skin ridding itself of dirt, dead skin cells, and other chemicals or toxins that had previously been absorbed into it. It brings these materials to the surface throughout the face, where they’re expelled via breakout. It’s different than acne, which has a similar appearance of blackheads and pustules, but is caused by bacterial infection of the pores.

What Does Skin Purging Look Like?

Purging skin looks very similar to acne. A skin purge looks like small red raised parts of the skin that hurt a little when you touch them. They can also appear as whiteheads and blackheads.

What Causes Skin Purging?

Primarily, the skin purges these compounds in response to the presence of a few different chemicals, commonly used in professional skincare treatments or medical-grade products. These ingredients include alpha and beta hydroxy acids that exfoliate the skin chemically, as well as benzoyl peroxide, retinols, Vitamin C, and glycolic acid.

When these ingredients are used on the skin, they help drive these complexion-dulling substances out. This is in part of how some cosmetic treatments achieve their results, they exfoliate the skin from the inside out.

If you’ve recently switched skincare products or undergone a treatment such as a chemical peel or medical-grade face mask and see pimple-like features forming a few days after it, this is most likely purging, not acne.

What to Do About A Skin Purge

Because the skin is doing something it’s intended to be doing with purging, the best way to deal with it is to keep your routine the same. At this time, your skin will be sensitive and vulnerable to harsh active ingredients, so don’t think you need to switch to an even more aggressive cleanser, for example. Just like with acne, don’t pop the pimples. You should consider washing face towels and pillows (and even your bedsheets) to prevent bacteria on these surfaces from aggravating your purge.

To help minimize the effect of future purges, it’s best that, when introducing a new skincare product into your routine, especially one with strong ingredients, to do so gradually over the course of a few days to allow your skin to adjust to the new formula.

A skin purge typically lasts somewhere between a few days and 2 weeks, and if it lasts longer, you may want to switch to your previous skincare routine or avoid the treatment you had.

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