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Help! Why do I have bumps on my face?

June 30, 2021

Help! Why do I have bumps on my face?

Have you added a new skincare product to the mix only to discover you're getting little white bumps or little red pimples? This is not uncommon for some. Most immediately assume the product is wrong for their skin but that is often not the case.

This can be what is called a skin purge. This is a term used to describe breakouts that occur after starting a new skincare product containing certain active ingredients. A skin purge looks like white bumps and sometimes little red pimples.

It can happen because many active ingredients are designed to boost skin cell turnover. It is happening too fast when the skin purges so drastically.

Common instigators of a purge are also some of the most beneficial skincare actives. So it can be a little scary and frustrating when this happens. But don't throw out the product just yet. Read on!

The following are common actives known to be the culprit of a purge:

  • Retinoids or retinols
  • Exfoliating hydroxy acids, such as AHAS, BHAS and PHAS
  • Exfoliants - think scrubs, cleansing brushes, peels, and microdermabrasion treatments
  • Vitamin C
  • Benzoyl peroxide (a topical acne treatment)
  • Laser treatments

This doesn't mean everyone using products with these actives will experience a purge, but some can. The key is being able to tell the difference between a purge and an actual adverse reaction. More on that below. It will require patience to wait out the purge so you don't lose out on the benefits of the active ingredients in the product.

The increase in cell turnover from active ingredients can trigger blackheads or a breakout of white bumps or red pimples. It is a short term nuisance for a long term gain. The bumps would have surfaced anyway but have just been hastened by the actives. This is a temporary reaction. 

Purging should only last for 2 - 3 weeks. Then you will begin to see the benefits of using the new product. Most of the benefits to actives take time to build and this building process can take 8 - 12 weeks, depending on the product or treatment and of course, your skin. Sometimes results start happening sooner.

How to Survive or Avoid a Skin Purge

Some will experience a purge, no matter what. This will be those with sensitive or reactive skin. The potential for a purge can be significantly reduced or avoided by introducing new products containing these active ingredients slowly. This can be done by using a lesser amount of product or using it fewer days to allow skin to adjust gradually.

At the first sign of a bump or pimple, apply NeoGenesis Recovery at least twice daily directly to the bump or pimple or the area where they are forming. This will shorten the healing time tremendously. Do not squeeze or pick at  them to avoid scaring or making matters worse. 

I am an advocate for keeping things simple to avoid overloading your skin. If you’re using several products with actives and apply them all at the same time - and your skin is purgingSTOP. A better way to use multiple actives to avoid a purge is to split them up and apply at different times. For example, apply one product(s) in the morning, and the other(s) at night. 

How Long Should You Wait Out a Purge?

If things aren’t going in the right direction within 2-3 weeks of treatment, stop using the offending product(s). If you are seeing painful cysts, it is important to give this more attention as your treatment may need to be adjusted sooner. 

If you’re not sure which product is the culprit, use the elimination process to figure it out. This means stop the use of all NEW products and gradually add back one by one on a weekly basis watching for signs to determine if it's the product.

Is it a Purge or an Adverse Reaction?

If any NEW skincare product(s) introduced do NOT contain the culprits listed above, chances are your skin is having an adverse reaction rather than a purge.

Another sign you're having an adverse reaction, rather than a purge, is when bumps form painful cysts and are showing up in areas that you wouldn’t normally breakout. Purging speeds spots to the surface but it shouldn’t cause bumps in entirely new areas. If that is the case, you’re probably looking at an adverse reaction that is not likely to get better using the offending product.

Knowing when to give up and move on is important and understanding the purging process will help you determine how to handle any white bumps or red pimples.

Please contact a medical professional, if you have a medical condition.

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