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How Can You Tell the Difference Between Purge and Skin Breakouts

Are you new to the skincare bandwagon?

First, congratulations! Skin Breakouts

Second, be careful. Although over-the-counter skincare products should be a lot milder than prescription medicines, it doesn’t mean that they do not have the potential to damage your skin if used incorrectly. 

So, before dedicating your money and time to a new skincare regimen, read up and ask around. 

In one way or another, you will be adding hydroxy acids and/or vitamin A derivatives (e.g. retinol) to your regimen. And if it is your first time encountering these products, you will most likely experience “purging”. 

But how can you tell that it is purging and not a breakout?

Here is a table to help simplify things for you:

If the lesions are concentrated on the areas where you usually get acne You notice new pimples in areas where you don’t usually get acne.
Your skin feels like sandpaper and can present with comedones, papules, and pustules. Rarely, cystic. Skin is inflamed with cystic acne.
The turnover of your skin cells is faster. 

You notice this when comedones ripen faster than usual. Meaning, they don’t linger too long and resolve on their own. 

Cell turnover is the same.

Comedones may stay longer than 2 months.

It usually occurs a few days after your first application.

If it does look like purging, just go on. But if it looks like a skin breakouts, stop the products immediately and see your dermatologist.

Also Read: At what age are you supposed to start with the anti aging treatments?

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About the Author: Dr. Elli Reyes is a specialist of Aesthetic Medicine from the Philippines. With over four years of specialized training, her aesthetic practice has involved a variety of skin treatments involving Botox, fillers, and the like. As a licensed physician, she has been engaged by multiple clinics and is regularly interviewed by the local media as an expert in the science of the skin. Her research and writings to date have centered on nutrition, functional health, and general beauty.

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