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How should one handle pimples and clogged pores on the face? Dr. Emily Altman answers on Quora.com?

A good place to start is a benzoyl peroxide (BP) wash. There are many different ones over the counter. Studies have shown that lower strength BP products are just as effective as higher strength without the irritation that higher strengths may cause. Benzoyl peroxide products also come in creams or gels.

There are also sulfur/resorcinol combinations that help dry up individual pimples. I usually recommend treating the entire area where acne breaks out and not individual pimples alone because treatment usually helps prevent new breakouts as well.

If the lesions are deeper under the skin and not just on the surface, the over the counter products are not sufficient because they simply don’t reach deep enough to treat cystic or nodular (deeper forms) acne. For that you may need a prescription oral medication.

Also, I do tell my patients to avoid milk and dairy products as these tend to contribute to acne breakouts. In addition to the usual sources of dairy, like milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and even milk chocolate, milk products are also present in such things as protein shakes or muscle building bars/shakes, etc.

I usually do not recommend squeezing the pimples out because that causes inflammation and can lead to scarring.

Please see our Acne page for more detailed information on acne.

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