To pop or not to pop, that is the question, as I stare into the bathroom mirror. An unsightly pimple on my otherwise clear skin is looking back at me. I think I’m like a lot of adult women who find it impossible not to practice dermatology on myself when unjustly marked this way like the Hester Prynne of adolescence. Turns out, my scarlet A (for acne, of course) is a badge I share with more than half of all New York women, according to Soho Integrative Health’s founder-dermatologist Dr. Laurie Polis. “And interestingly, these figures appear to be climbing.” Sometimes adult breakouts call for an expert; here’s our guide for when to call in the big guns.
Problem: It’s way under the surface and painful, and I look like I have the mumps.
Solution: Go to a dermatologist for a shot—a dose of anti-inflammatory medication is injected right into the cyst using a tiny, tiny needle. “Relief is immediate and the cyst shrinks within hours; it’s a trick models use,” says Dr. Polis, who also likes Advil and cold compresses to bring down swelling associated with these underground pimples.
Problem: It’s ready to come out, but I don’t want to scar myself.
Solution: See your facialist for an extraction or a High Frequency treatment. Oni Chaves, a leading city facialist at Amore Pacific, doesn’t charge her regular clients for coming in between treatments, if they’re hesitant about dealing with bigger spots. “I think of it like a bang trim. And I’d rather do the extracting than deal with a much bigger problem later.”
Problem: I just don’t have time to deal with this now.
Solution: Apply a zit-dissolving concealer, like Jane Iredale Zap and Hide ($25). It’s a two-ended product that treats the pimple with tea-tree oil then covers it.
Got a method for treating adult acne that we didn’t cover? Tell us, here!
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