All you need to know about skin purging


Skin purging is a thing. Most people don’t know about it as they tend to mistake this condition or tag it as their skin ‘breaking out’. The problem now is being able to identify when the skin is purging and when it is actually breaking out.
Most of us have noticed our skin break out when we try out new skin care products, and most times we dismiss this as the product not being suitable for our skin. The question now is, is your skin purging, or is it really breaking out?
It is really hard for some people to tell seeing that the skin both purges and breakout when you introduce a new product.
Though they are very similar, they are not the same. In this article, you are going to learn all about skin purging and how it is different from breakouts.
What Is Skin Purging?
Simply put, skin purging is a condition where your skin breaks out when you introduce a new skin care product. But, not all products can cause skin purging. Retinoids, hydroxy acids, anti-aging products, and other acne management and over-the-counter products that accelerate the skin exfoliation rate usually cause skin purging.
Skin purging usually happens when your skin has to adjust the new products you got in order to give you the expected results. These products can increase the cell turnover rate, which cause a faster pimple formation. This turnover leaves your pores clogged, then they mature into pimples, and even if you have small pimples and acne, they will turn into large ones. In other words, the products push all those hidden comedowns to the skin surface.
This does not mean that your skin is reacting negatively to the product. A breakout occurs when your skin is sensitive to the ingredients used in a product, resulting in skin irritation or allergy and clogging of your pores.
However, if your skin keeps purging after using the products for a few more weeks, consult with your dermatologist. And if the break out develops into a rash, then it’s best you stop using the product.
Now, how do you know when your skin is breaking out or purging? Let’s learn the differences between the two
Differences between Skin Purging and Breakout
When you introduce a new skin care product(s), it accelerates the cell turnover rate, thereby heightening your entire skin cell regeneration cycle. What this simply means is:
• The microcomedones will turn into blackheads, whiteheads, or cysts.
• The already existing pimples get inflamed
• Your blemishes will get more visible
• The microcomedones that were not pronounced will be also be pushed to the surface.
The thing about this skin issue is, they were already present before you start using the product. Once your skin starts workings, the severity of the issues will reduce, and your skin starts to clear up.
For situations where your skin is not purging but breaking out, this is what you will notice.
• Cause new clogged pores.
• Intensify skin irritation.
• Result in new blemishes in new areas of your skin.
• Cause itching, pain, or a new type of rash.
Breakouts result in fresh blemishes and skin issues, not already existing skin issues. And in most cases, it can cause further damages. That’s why it is better you stop using the product and see your dermatologist.
Let’s look at some products that can cause skin purging
Products that can Cause Skin Purging
Not all products can cause your skin to purge. Products that contain active ingredients and those that increase your skin cell turnover rate cause skin purging. Products containing the following active ingredients may cause skin purging:
• Retinoids (including isotretinoin, retinol, retinylpalmitate, tretinoin, tazarotene, and adapalene)
• Hydroxy acids (such as malic, lactic, glycolic, lactobionic, mandelic, gluconolactone, and fruit acids)
• Exfoliants (such as enzyme exfoliants and scrubs)
• Benzoyl peroxide
• Chemical peels and other procedures such as microdermabrasion and lasers (ingredients used in or during these procedures)
Any product that does not contain any of these active ingredients will not cause skin purging.
You also have to consider the areas where your skin is breaking out.
Purging or Breaking Out: Check the Areas Where Breakouts Occur
If your skin is purging you will notice the following:
• Only the pre-existing comedones will flare up
• The breakouts appear in areas where they already or usually occur
What this means is, if you have always had clogged pores and bumps on your chin, skin purging will cause inflammation only in those areas. But if the product irritate your skin or doesn’t suit you at all, it will cause breakouts in any area and make your existing skin issue(s) worse.
Skin purging has certain duration, breakouts may last for several months or years.
How Long Does A Purge Last?
This depends on your cell renewal cycle. The skin cells are constantly replacing themselves. Once you exfoliate the dead skin cells from the topmost layer, the new skin cells replace them. For adults, this cell renewal process takes about a month. However, with age, this process slows down. So, skin purging should last anywhere between 4-6 weeks.
If your skin isn’t getting better even after 6-8 weeks, it means that it is reacting to the new products.
While you cannot do much but wait during the skin purging process, you can definitely take steps to minimize its severity.
How to Minimize The Severity Of The Purge
Your skin is very vulnerable during the purging process. So, be patient and gentle. Follow these tips to take care of your skin:

• Avoid touching and popping your pimples.
• Avoid using harsh chemicals, scrubs, and soaps on the affected area. Using harsh skin care products can aggravate the issue.
• When using products with active ingredients for the first time, introduce them to your skin slowly. This will help minimize the effect of skin purging. Use a small amount of the product. Or use it less frequently. You can increase the frequency later once your skin gets used to it.
• Avoid exposing your skin to harsh sun rays during purging. Always use sunscreen and sun protection.


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