Thursday, January 26, 2012

Extractions: comedones, milia, and pustules, oh my!

Are comedones, milia, and pustules present on your skin? Comedones (blackheads) are hard, oxidized sebum (oil) which is why they are nicknamed blackheads.  Milia (whitehead) is sebum that isn't oxidized and has no opening, which is why they look similar to ant bites without the redness. A pustule (pimple or zit) looks like a bubble on your face and is filled with pus. Pustules are most commonly referred to as pimples and are very painful to the touch. They are usually full with active bacteria as pus that can spread easily if they're not extracted correctly. Pus is a thick, yellowish or greenish opaque liquid produced in infected tissue consisting of dead white blood cells and bacteria with tissue debris and serum.

If you have any of these issues, no worries! Your aesthetician can work some magic with a deep pore cleansing facial! Yes, those dreadful extractions are painful but they will speed the healing process in your skin. Aestheticians start by cleansing the skin. Then they massage your face to emulsify (bring to the surface) oil and loosen debris in your skin. Lastly, they exfoliate any dead skin cells that are blocking pore openings.

From here we look through that bright light (magnifying lamp) and open each milia or pustule with a lancet. Ever think to yourself or even ask, "What's that pricking my skin?" It's called a lancet! Lancets are the needles diabetics use to prick their finger to check their sugar. Lancets have a very thin needle that is barely noticeable when opening milia or pustules. We carefully open a tiny opening and strategically manipulate the hard, sea pearl-like oil from the pore.

An incorrect extraction of pustules will cause pressure underneath the epidermal (surface) layer of skin. This pressure causes the pus to bust open a new trail under the skin causing another pustule to pop up on a new area of the face. That's why extracting at home is not recommended. Picking the skin is the worst thing for your skin! Ever wonder where the term "pot marks" came from? Pot marks are deep circular scars caused from picking the skin. Yes, you can dig the bacteria out of the pore but it's only short term relief. Long term, your skin could be scarred for life. Peels will improve scarring some but most cases are severe enough that the skin will not improve substantially if the scars are deep. So don't pick your skin! A great way to make your skin feel better right from your home in that very second your fingers go near your face is to apply a warm compress to the pustule. Then let the pustule pop on its own and wipe the pus off with an antibacterial wipe.

If you're a client of mine in Tallahassee, just book a reservation with me! I consider extracting an emergency and I'll gladly extract those pesky blemishes for you! Ever wonder why you feel a warm flow of steam for 20 minutes during your facials? Steam softens the skin so I can easily open the pustules and milia to extract them safely. Comedones are the least painful to extract because the pore is already open. The top of the oil is oxidized and easy to see. Comedones will not spread from extracting because blackheads are hard sebum sitting in the pores and will most likely live there until extracted. Yes, those clean, swollen pores after extractions are dreadful and embarrassing but they are so worth it the day after when your skin is glowing and blemish free!

As long as you do your skin care routine you will most definitely prevent pustules, milia, and comedones from taking over your face. It's common for everybody to have some comedones, especially on the nose! So don't fret over one or two! Your aesthetician should catch any comedones, milia, pustules, or acne in your monthly facial visits and help keep your skin blemish free!


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