If you’ve ever had a pimple come back to haunt you, welcome, because this is the story of my life. And I’ve had enough. On the left side of my face, the right side of my chin, and smack bang in the middle of my forehead are the culprits. Whether it’s once a fortnight, once a month, or once a year, the same pimples keep popping up in the same place and I don’t understand why they won’t just budge.
So, I did us all a favour and spoke to Dr Zainab Laftah, Consultant Dermatologist at The London Dermatology Centre, Ee Ting Ng, cosmetic chemist, molecular biologist & founder and principal formulator of personalised skin care brand Hop & Cotton, and Paula’s Choice Senior Research and Education Manager Desiree Stordahl, to find out how to get rid of these bad boys once and for all.
First and foremost, it’s good to have an understanding of why some pimples choose to pop up in the same place. According to Stordahl, there’s not just one reason for recurring pimples. Instead, it’s usually a combination of things: “Genetic predisposition, hormones, using products that aren’t well suited for your skin in that particular area, or even habits (like holding your cellphone against your cheeks or chin).” It could even be a result of your diet.
While the T-Zone is naturally more prone to breakouts, the type of pimple, rather than its location, is usually the best indicator of the cause. Stordahl claims, “If you’re plagued by one particular pimple that’s always recurring in the same spot, you might have a deeper rooted cystic or nodular acne.” Dr Laftah adds: “We all have areas that are prone to the spots but a reoccurring pimple in the same place is often due to deeper underlying inflammation. Cysts which are deep, pus-filled lesions, in particular, are notorious for developing in the same area.”
So, how do we treat these beasts? Before you spend a month’s pay on the dermatologist, there are a few things you can do. According to Ng, “The best way to treat a recurring pimple is to use a combination of exfoliants (e.g. AHA, BHA), retinoids (e.g. retinol, adapalene) and anti-bacterial topicals (e.g. benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin).” Just remember that when it comes to skincare, less is more and anything too harsh may actually aggravate or worsen the issue.
“Preventing any pimple, reoccurring or not, is to minimise the build-up of skin cells, which minimises the blockage within the follicle,” says Ng. “This is done by proper daily cleansing (which is more about how well you cleanse each time, not the number of times you cleanse) and regular exfoliation appropriate for your skin.” As per usual, consistency is key.
Dr Latfah admits that it may take a few months to see results, so hang in there and don’t give up even if it’s been a few weeks and your least favourite recurring pimple has popped up again to say hi. “If, however, despite treatment you have persistent acne or develop scarring please see a dermatologist,” she warns. Sage advice.