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Impure skin: causes, treatment, tips

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 432 views

Pimples, pustules, blackheads… Anyone with impure skin or even (severe) acne is usually not exactly happy. The “sprinkles” on the face, décolleté or back are an aesthetic problem for many of those affected, although they are generally not a cause for concern. Countless creams, pastes, washing lotions and other products are available to combat impure skin. Read what helps and when you should see a doctor.

quick overview

  • What helps against impure skin ? What helps depends, among other things, on the skin type. In general: Do not press around on pimples & Co. and use cleaning and care products suitable for your own skin type (if possible pH-neutral).
  • Causes of impure skin: e.g. B. hormonal changes or excessive sebum production. Presumably, stress, poor diet and the (room) climate can also promote pimples, blackheads and acne .
  • When to the doctor? You should see a dermatologist if you have long-lasting, extensively impure skin or if you are suffering severely.
  • Treatment options: eg medication such as vitamin A acid derivatives or bactericidal solutions

Impure skin: what helps – and what doesn’t?

Even if photo filters and social media glossy images suggest otherwise: Very few people are lucky enough to have flawless, clear skin. Almost everyone occasionally develops pimples, blackheads or even acne. Normally you don’t have to see a doctor because of a few pustules. It is often enough if you change your eating and living habits or treat the impure skin yourself with suitable products from the drugstore or pharmacy. Which ones are right depends, among other things, on your skin type:

  • Normal skin: the optimal case. It has neither too much nor too little fat and moisture and is easy to care for. Blemishes are not a huge problem, but can e.g. B. caused by hormonal changes, incorrect care or air-conditioned / heated room air. Then a cleansing milk followed by a facial tonic can help.
  • Oily skin : It has large pores, is shiny and prone to imperfections and acne. Sometimes it is hereditary, in other cases it is caused by hormonal changes (e.g. during puberty) or medication. Since oily skin is quite insensitive, you can usually use cleansing gel, alcohol-based facial tonic and drying care products.
  • Dry skin : It has a limited protective function and should therefore only be cared for gently. The problem here is less impurities (germs can settle harder) than irritations, wrinkles and inflammation. Only use mild cleaning products (if at all). Products rich in moisture and fat relieve feelings of tension.
  • Combination skin: Here the so-called T-zone (forehead, nose , chin) is greasy, the rest is dry. This means that there must be suitable care for both skin types.

In addition, you can do the following to improve blemished skin:

  • Don’t doctor yourself and prefer not to pop the pimples yourself. It is best to put impure skin in the experienced hands of a beautician – she will professionally remove blackheads. Otherwise, further inflammation and scars can develop.
  • It is best to clean impure skin only with “pH-neutral” (pH about 5.5 – this corresponds to the natural protective acid layer of the skin), mild, perfume-free and skin-friendly soaps or washing lotions. And don’t wash your skin too often either, as this can destroy the acid mantle and make blemished skin worse.
  • Use water-based products (oil-free makeup, sunscreen, etc.). Creams and cosmetics containing fat or oil clog the pores and promote impure skin.
  • Products with fruit acids, salicylic acid or lactic acid often beautify the skin.
  • Covering measures and complexion-correcting make-up are recommended and good for the soul. There are special products for impure skin, recognizable by information such as “non-comedogenic” (does not clog the pores) or “fat-free”.
  • Make sure that your impure skin does not get too much cold, heat or UV light . Too much sun can make pimples, blackheads and acne worse.
  • Even if the influence of diet on impure skin has not been proven: make sure you eat a healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables and drink a lot – around two liters of liquid a day are recommended.
  • Get plenty of exercise in the fresh air – it boosts your metabolism and is also good for your skin.
  • It is best not to touch your face with your hands. There are many bacteria on the palms of the hands, which is why regular hand washing is generally advisable for your health.
  • Use different towels for your face and hands.
  • Consume substances and foods in moderation that could aggravate your blemished skin. It is best to observe whether certain substances promote impure skin.

Impure skin: What doesn’t help

Toothpaste is a home remedy that’s supposed to help get rid of pimples and dry them out, but it doesn’t. Some toothpastes contain zinc , which has an anti-inflammatory effect. The ingredient fluorine, on the other hand, tends to stimulate inflammation. Toothpaste also removes too much oil from the skin. Reddish and inflamed patches of skin may form. Toothpaste can actually make symptoms worse.

Zinc ointment has an antiseptic effect and works against inflammation. However, zinc alone does not get rid of acne.

Tea tree oil works against inflammation. However, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment warns that it can also trigger severe allergic reactions if it is applied to the skin in a highly concentrated and undiluted form.

In general, with many over-the-counter anti-pimple products, there is no guarantee that they will work as hoped: In a practical test conducted by BR in 2016 with dermatological supervision, none of the tested products (one with tea tree oil, one with zinc, one with salicylic acid) notice a noticeable improvement in the complexion.

A year earlier, Ökotest awarded only four of the twelve acne tinctures tested a “very good”, all others failed. And the Stiftung Warentest (4/2006) also examined twelve anti-pimple agents. The anti-pimple effect, application (e.g. removal, application, skin feel) and tolerability were tested. Result: Three products were good, but there was no miracle cure for impure skin here either.

Impure skin: causes and possible diseases

When the skin develops blackheads, pimples and possibly acne, this can be due to various factors:

blackhead occurs when the glands produce excessive amounts of sebum . The sebum cannot escape through the duct of the sebaceous follicle because the epidermis is heavily keratinized. A plug forms that closes the exit of the follicular canal. The stored skin pigment melanin reacts with the oxygen in the air and darkens the plug – this creates the typical appearance of blackheads. They appear mainly on the forehead, nose and chin, and in the case of oily skin often also on the whole face.

If skin inflammation develops from the blackheads, one often speaks of pimples . The skin reddens, bacteria and other pathogens can settle and lead to an infection. A focus of pus often forms at the top of the pimple.

Acne is a hormone-related disease that depends primarily on the male sex hormones (androgens such as testosterone). It occurs more frequently during puberty, when the hormones in the body go haywire. Because then the production of androgens increases sharply (the female body also produces small amounts of it!). The male hormones ensure that the sebaceous glands produce more skin fat. In the case of acne, the ducts of the sebaceous glands narrow, making it difficult for the often more viscous skin fat to escape – the sebum builds up. By the way: In contrast to testosterone, estrogens – the female sex hormones – tend to prevent impure skin.

In addition to puberty, the second half of the menstrual cycle and pregnancy are often associated with acne because the testosterone concentration in the female body then increases.

other factors

Twin studies have found that hereditary factors also play a role in whether acne occurs or not. In addition, diet is said to have an influence on acne, even if this has not yet been scientifically proven. In addition, the climate (humidity, UV radiation) and other environmental factors are suspected of causing impure skin.

Acne can also be caused or made worse by a variety of medications . Examples are glucocorticoids (e.g. in rheumatic, allergic and autoimmune diseases), androgens (e.g. in the treatment of breast cancer) and anabolic steroids, psychotropic drugs or neuroleptics (antipsychotic agents, e.g. against delusions, agitation, etc.).

The influence of psychological factors, such as stress , has not yet been proven – however, the psyche is not entirely unimportant in the course of the disease, because the impure skin can cause a high level of mental suffering and significantly impair the quality of life. Acne severity also appears to be related to the number of cigarettes smoked .

Blemished skin: when should you see a doctor?

Everyone has impure skin. So you don’t have to go to the doctor for every pimple. However, if you suffer greatly from impure skin, have impure skin for a long time, blackheads and pimples appear all over the place, or large nodules, blisters or skin inflammation develop, you should definitely consult a doctor. Because without adequate treatment – or if you put your hand to the pimple yourself – large-scale inflammation and large scars can develop.

The right contact person for impure skin is a dermatologist, i.e. a skin doctor.

Impure skin: what does the doctor do?

The doctor will first ask you how long you have had impure skin, what remedies you have already used to treat it, and also want to know a few things about your lifestyle: How do you eat? Do you take any medication, if so – which ones? What about your nicotine and alcohol consumption? This gives the doctor a first clue as to what could be causing the impure skin.

diagnosis

A dermatologist can diagnose blackheads, pimples and acne based on their appearance alone. Oily, impure skin with blackheads, papules and pustules is characteristic of acne. Sometimes the doctor takes a swab from the inflamed pimples for a more detailed examination. This is how the triggering acne bacteria can be detected.

It is also important to get to the bottom of the causes of impure skin. The form of acne – acne vulgaris or another type – also plays a role in the therapy. The dermatologist also checks whether there are other skin diseases that can cause impure skin. A blood test helps to detect hormonal imbalances.

therapy

If proper cleaning and care are not enough and the skin inflammation does not go away, the doctor can prescribe medication. He will usually use a combination of different substances – depending on the form and severity of the acne:

Vitamin A acid derivatives (retinoids, e.g. adapalene, isotretinoin , tretinoin) work against impure skin with pimples and blackheads as well as against inflammation. They are very effective in treating mild acne.

Callus-dissolving and bactericidal solutions, creams and washing lotions also help with mild acne. Benzoyl peroxide dissolves the skin’s stratum corneum and kills bacteria. Azelaic acid works against blackheads, inflammation and bacteria. Salicylic acid peels away the top layer of skin and helps open pores. This allows the excess sebum to escape from the pores.

Locally acting antibiotics are usually used to treat mild to moderate acne – but not alone, but only in combination with other agents (retinoids, benzoyl peroxide or azelaic acid). Examples of antibiotics used are erythrocycin and clindamycin . Above all, they are supposed to tackle acne bacteria of the “Propionibacterium acnes” type and counteract inflammation of the pimples.

Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under the age of twelve must not take certain antibiotics (e.g. tetracyclines)!

Hormonal contraceptives with antiandrogens can help women with acne. They are suitable for mild to moderate acne.

In general, there is one thing you definitely need for acne therapy: patience. Impure skin with pimples, blackheads and acne does not disappear from one day to the next. You have to allow for several weeks before the therapy takes effect.

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