All about Extractions

In an ideal world, extractions are best left to professionals, this way we can avoid scarring and spreading bacteria across the face causing more breakouts. But let’s face it we have all been tempted by a little squeeze of a juicy pustule, blackhead, whitehead, or milia sitting centre stage on our face like a little beacon.

So how can you tell the difference between a spot to be squeezed and one that should be left alone? If you have a bump that is red, inflamed and very painful. Let this little guy be. Don’t aggravate the redness and inflammation anymore. because if you squeeze an inflamed lesion you could potentially rupture the follicle wall under the skin, spread the acne causing bacteria resulting in more acne popping up nearby. And squeezing can increase your risk of scarring.

The type of lesion that can be extracted (correctly) in clinic is more of a pustule. The pustule occurs as the white blood cells fight the infection forming pus; this then rises in the follicle and becomes visible like a little creamy filled bump (not as deep set as nodules or cysts). The other is Blackheads (open comedones) and whiteheads (closed comedones) and milia, these little guys are non-inflammatory lesions and contain sebaceous secretions harden keratin and compacted skin cells within the follicle.

What steps do you need to take to tackle it if it is ready?

  • Cleanse the area, ensuring it is free of dirt and bacteria.
  • Then soften the area with desincrustation solution (if in salon), steam, warm towels or warm water compress.
  • If working with a pustule, carefully open the pore (using a sterile extraction needle), this gives the compaction an easy exit route out of the skin rather than ‘breaking’ the skin on its exit.
  • Identify the direction of the follicle to determine where to apply pressure. Most follicles are not perpendicular to the skin, so applying pressure in one area or direction only will not always do the job.
  • Use the correct ‘scoop and roll’ technique (much like a ‘C’s shape). If the white head is ready to go it should easily pop and pus will be released. Usually a hard compaction at the end indicates the lesion has been extracted correctly and a small amount of clear plasma may be secreted.
  • Apply antibacterial solution.
  • Do not touch whilst healing.

What are the biggest mistakes people make with extractions?

  • Trying to extract a lesion before it is ready.
  • Incorrectly extracting a lesion causing more skin trauma and impairing healing.
  • Using fingers or nails, spreading bacteria or causing unnecessary skin trauma.
  • Squeezing, rather than rolling and applying too much pressure.
  • Metal extraction tools, should be used only by a professional as they know when and how to use them. Incorrect use can cause damage on a delicate skin and should only be used on a resilient skin that the tissue has been softened prior to use to avoid unnecessary trauma to the skin.

What kind of aftercare products should you use on spots? Think Salicylic acid, Vit A, Lactic Acid, Niacinamide, AHAs anti-inflammatory and calming properties helping to alleviate redness in the skin.