You know how sometimes it can feel like you've been battling the same pimple for weeks on end? Well, according to Beverly Hills dermatologist Lisa Chipps, that's actually not that far from the truth. Acne develops under the skin—what dermatologists call unseen, or invisible, acne—up to 10 weeks before you actually see any sort of evidence of that pimple on your face. So, no, you're not being a drama queen when you whine to all your friends about that blemish being your new roommate.
"Unseen acne is the bacteria that is living in the comedones [debris-filled pores]," says Chipps. "When you have buildup in those pores—from oil and dead skin cells—that bacteria likes to grow in there. That forms the comedone that is the precursor to a pimple."
So, why do you need to care about acne that you can't even see? Well, because if not treated, that unseen acne is going to turn into, uh, seen acne. Chipps says that using topical retinol creams, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide can all be effective at cleaning out pores. "A lot of times, when you clean out the pores, they turn over rapidly enough that you won't get the pimple," she says.
But don't go slathering these topical zit fighters all over your face just yet. All three of those ingredients can be drying on your skin and potentially cause more breakouts if you apply them in areas where you don't actually need them. Instead, you need to zero-in on where exactly your unseen acne is percolating and treat those pores specifically. [Click here to read the full story at Refinery29!]