Is Skin Purging an Actual Thing?

I’m sure you’ve heard the term skin purging. If you have acne and are using a new product for it, within a few days you might start breaking out a little more. This period when your skin actually starts getting worse is referred to as the skin purging period. So is it a real thing and how long does it last?

Skin renews itself every 28 days, i.e old cells die off and are replaced by new, healthy cells. This is known as cell turnover. Acne forms deep within your skin. So the hair follicle gets inflamed and the pore gets blocked. Eventually the inflammation makes its way to the surface of the skin and this is when you breakout. However this “breakout” has been in the lower layers of your skin for a few days before it slowly shows itself.

The reason purging happens is because some of the ingredients in the product may speed up cell turnover. When cell turnover speeds up, blocked pores that would have taken 7-8 days days to make themselves visible suddenly do it in 2-3 days. You get clusters of new pimples. However these new pimples should heal quicker as well. Since skin normally takes around 28 days to renew itself you should really see results after a month if the product is actually working for you.

I once used an “Isotretinoin” cream for a year. It was prescribed to me by my dermatologist. Each time I told her it was not working she said I was purging or it was the time of my month. Don’t be stupid like me. Keep an eye on your face and if you feel something is not right stop.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind when using a new product to know if you are purging or the product is not working and instead making you break out.

  1. Purging should last maximum for a month. If you do not see any improvement after a month it is time to stop using the product.
  2. You should not be breaking out in places you don’t normally break out. This means the new product is causing breakouts rather than purging.
  3. Please use only one new product at a time so you know which one is working. Give each product a chance and don’t hinder things by throwing another product into the mix.
  4. If your new breakouts look much different than your normal breakouts please stop using the product. For example if you normally do not have cystic acne but start getting it after using a new product, please stop.

So yes skin purging is an actual thing. But all said and done please use your judgement wisely when it comes to your face. Whatever anyone says, let your feelings have the final say in the health of your skin. A few days of not using a product will not do any harm to your face. You can always restart a product but cannot undo damage to your face.

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4 Things I Wish My Dermatologist Had Told Me

The one thing I noticed when visiting dermatologists over the years for my acne was that they all had clear skin. Not just clear skin, but beautiful skin. Initially, this gave me hope as I thought that they would help me get that same clear and beautiful skin. However, as time went by it became pretty obvious that I was heading in exactly the opposite direction. The dry, red, cracked, itchy and bumpy skin was not exactly what I was looking for. They had some tricks up their sleeve which they were clearly not sharing with their patients.

I was pretty sure they were using products that they would never recommend to their patients. However, here are some things which if they had told me, my skin would have healed a long time back.

1. Diet has a major effect on your skin

Believe it or not figuring this one out on my own, after 2o years of fighting acne made me feel really stupid. After all the money I had spent on various (some really expensive ) products and clinics, it was something I was eating that was giving me acne.

Thinking about it, it makes sense. What we eat sustains us and gives us energy. It always has an effect on our body. So it makes sense that certain foods may be giving us acne.

2. I never use the products I prescribe you

When trying to get me to take Accutane one dermatologist told me “I would take it if I had to.” I knew she was lying through her teeth. If Accutane helps someone and cures them permanently I have absolutely no problem with it. What I have a problem with is trying to convince a patient by lying, that too to someone with acne who may already have self-esteem issues. Worse is doing it with a drug such as Accutane.

Once while buying Clinique products, the salesperson got a call. I heard her refer to the person on the other end as Doctor. Curious, I hung around and spoke to her for a while longer. She told me that it was a dermatologist at the very clinic I had visited for my acne. I paid exactly the same amount at the clinic as I did at the Clinique counter. What I got from the products the dermatologist prescribed was dry, inflamed skin. Clinique products actually made my skin heal a bit.

3. Antibiotics and BP are hit or miss solutions

Not everyone with acne will be cured by these standard solutions. From what I have learnt over the years every case of acne has something different causing it and something unique will be able to cure it. For some, it was Zinc supplements, for another Vitamin E supplements. Some people have good results by avoiding sugar, dairy and gluten, either one or maybe even all 3. Some even cured their acne by just changing their pillow cases every day.

I wish dermatologists would change a patient’s treatment when it did not work instead of ramping up the dosage. If it does not work in a month it is not going to work.

Sometimes using antibiotics and BP is like treating the body and skin like a war zone. Nothing good can come out of it. The skin reacts by getting red and inflamed.

4. Left to itself your skin can heal on its own

If you have a minor cut on your hand do you need medical intervention? No. Even deeper cuts are stitched so that the healing takes place properly. The body does the healing. Provide a good environment for your skin and it can and will heal the acne on its own. Today if I see the signs that I am going to get acne, and I have no time to use my regular honey masks, I just leave it alone. I drink a lot of water and if pressed for time just take a Vitamin C supplement. I would normally drink water with lemon juice or eat vitamin C rich fruits. The acne does not even form.

However all said and done, some people do get a lot of help for their acne from dermatologists. If you do visit one make sure you use your instincts and realise when a treatment is not working and if it is actually making things worse.

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Why seeing Dermatologists for my acne was a bad idea

Note : This is not a complaint or a rant about any or all dermatologists. This is just my personal experience with dermatologists about my acne ONLY. 

Dermatologists acne bad idea

As someone who has seen their share of dermatologists for acne, I think it’s not only ok but fair for me to say that not one of them helped me. Their treatment for acne was the same, whether I was 14 or I was 34. If I had had some guidance in my early twenties about proper diet and skin care I would not have fought acne well into my 30’s. 

I have had a lot of problems with the skin on my face, which I’m really happy to say I have resolved on my own. My experience with dermatologists started when I was really young. If I remember right I was 8 or 9 years old and I used to get white patches on my face. These patches had come and gone throughout my childhood. Various doctors gave me topical ointments and steroids for these patches which did not work. Imagine that, steroids for a 9-year-old. I was then taken to a top dermatologist who was visiting the city for a few days. I still remember he set up his temporary office in the front room of this huge old house. You had to walk up about 30 steps from the road to reach the front door of the house.

His had placed a desk near one of the huge windows in the room. Anyway, after listening to what my Mom told him, he went on to tell her how I should avoid wheat, milk, rice, tomatoes, brinjals, spinach and the list went on. I remember these 6 only for some reason. The problem I see today with telling people to avoid a huge list of foods is that you’re not telling them how to do it, why you’re telling them to do it and what to eat instead. Add to the fact that I was 9 and the list he gave were things we ate on a daily basis, you can bet the diet was never followed even for a day.

Maybe he wanted to check if I was allergic to anything, but the list of what I remember were really random things. Next, if I did somehow avoid all the foods he told me to and my patches cleared I had no way of knowing which food I was allergic to. So what was I supposed to do? Avoid all those foods forever? Not to sound like a smarty pants, but I cured those white patches on my own. How? By drinking an extra glass of milk and eating a lot of spinach. Coincidently these 2 foods were on the list that I was told to avoid. So basically those white patches were a calcium deficiency.

When I was 14 my acne started. A physician I was seeing for a cold, prescribed a vitamin A supplement for my acne. She told me it would make my skin clear. After taking it for 6 months and seeing no results I stopped. Throughout my teens and twenties, all the doctors I saw for my acne gave me antibiotics and topical creams like Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic acid, Retin-A, topical Isotretinoin. All these big sounding medications lost the battle with my acne. My acne did not decrease while the redness and painfully dry irritated skin increased. I strongly believe that my skin got sensitive after all these treatments.

Fast forward to a few years back. I started going to a skin clinic for my acne. The reason I went was that I assumed they would combine skin care along with treatment for acne. I thought I would cure my acne and make my skin great. Finally!! All I got was a dermatologist who was little friendlier than normal but the treatment remained the same – antibiotics and topical ointments!! I was told I needed a few peels and then laser sessions. All through these peels, my acne was active and more acne kept forming. They never stopped. As I grew older they got bigger, red and painful. They moved from my cheeks and forehead to around my mouth, chin, between my eyebrows, places where I had never had acne before. Basically, I knew I was losing my battle with acne.

If you are 25 and have had the same experience as I have, why don’t dermatologists help? First, they have no idea what is causing your particular acne? Sure they know how the actual acne pustule is formed, i.e the pore getting clogged etc. but the factors leading up to this are a mystery to them. Before the actual acne appears on your face a lot of things have been going on in your body. Maybe your body is in a state of inflammation, maybe your hormones are imbalanced. None of this is taken in effect by them while trying to cure your acne. No advice is given on diet or basic skin care.

Dermatologists know acne, but they do not know skin care. More often than not the prescribed medication for acne leaves the skin worse. The medication deals with acne superficially. Antibiotics kill the bacteria that cause acne and topical ointments try and do the same. However, these bacteria alone do not cause acne.

I wasted precious time trying to find that perfect dermatologist or skin clinic who would have the answer and cure for my acne. However, I never found them. What I found was that my skin was getting worse. Because I took so many antibiotics my acne got worse and turned cystic. At one time my whole face was covered with cystic acne. These left horribly indented scars which even today are difficult to get rid of. If I had just dealt with my acne on my own my skin would have been much better. Eventually, I found out what caused my acne and few ways to deal with it.

Also, acne goes way beyond being a physical problem. Acne affects people mentally just as bad. Any treatment for acne needs to take this into account. The person suffering from acne needs to be listened to and be assured that her acne will be cured, one way or the other.

What I hope that is acne sufferers will realize that there are other options out there besides medications, which sometimes only make the problem worse. Don’t get me wrong, if dermatologists have or are helping your skin heal then great. Otherwise, you’re better off looking elsewhere and making changes in your life that work with your body to heal the acne.

Have you ever had any experience, good or bad, with a dermatologist with regards to acne? Comment and tell me.

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