How Do I Treat Sensitive Skin and Pimples?

Amanda R. Bell

Treating sensitive skin and pimples is as much about reducing breakouts as it is protecting the surrounding skin. If you have sensitive skin and pimples, traditional acne treatments may often be too harsh. You should attempt to minimize the use strong chemicals in trying to get rid of pimples, while making sure that your skin stays hydrated. You may also benefit from avoiding excessive exfoliation, limiting facial cleansing, and reviewing the ingredients of any products you use.

A bar of castile soap, which can help with sensitive skin and pimples.
A bar of castile soap, which can help with sensitive skin and pimples.

Benzoyl peroxide, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), and beta hydroxy acid (BHA) are typically not recommended when treating sensitive skin and pimples. While these substances are the most common acne treatments, they can cause sensitive skin to become inflamed and in some cases may make breakouts worse. If products containing these ingredients do not make your acne worse, use them sparingly, in low concentrations, as a spot treatment. Simple pat the product directly on the pimples either once a day or every other day; in most cases, it is best to avoid applying products containing these ingredients to your entire face.

Toothpaste can be effective at removing pimples.
Toothpaste can be effective at removing pimples.

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Salicylic acid, another common acne treatment, is often more gentle than other chemicals. When combined with moisturizers, salicylic acid can be an effective treatment for sensitive skin and pimples. As with other chemicals, it may be best to apply salicylic acid products on areas where you have acne or where you typically break out to prevent the formation of pimples rather than applying it to your entire face. No matter what acne product you use, keeping your skin hydrated with a gentle moisturizer can help reduce inflammation and limit skin reactions to acne treatment products.

If you have sensitive skin and pimples, you may want to avoid exfoliating products, especially those containing unevenly shaped or large particles. They can cause microscopic tears in sensitive skin, thereby increasing redness and leaving your facial area vulnerable to bacteria. If you feel you must exfoliate, choose a product with tiny, even particles, often labeled for sensitive skin, and limit exfoliation to once a week. This can help to remove dead skin cells, open up your pores, and allow the cleanser to penetrate deep into your skin, thus reducing and preventing pimples.

Most dermatologists recommend that those with sensitive skin and pimples only wash their face twice a day with a mild cleanser to avoid irritation and increased breakouts. While many products are labeled as made for sensitive skin, it is often best to avoid any product that includes more than 10 ingredients. In many cases, cleansers made with castile soap, derived from olive oil, are the best for sensitive skin and pimples. Castile soap is more hydrating than traditional cleansers, thereby making it less harsh. While products utilizing all natural ingredients may be beneficial, those persons with sensitive skin may have a reaction to some plant-based ingredients.

Traditional acne treatments may too harsh to a person with sensitive skin.
Traditional acne treatments may too harsh to a person with sensitive skin.

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