Spot horror! How to fight the health nightmares that could ruin your big office bash – starting with waking up with a blemish



22:36 GMT, 8 December 2012

The Christmas party season is in full swing and inevitably late nights, early mornings and a few too many drinks, coupled with winter weather and central heating, means health can begin to suffer.

Spots, cold sores and lost voices are some of the most common complaints triggered by festive excess, according to experts – minor ailments that can represent a major problem if you have a big event to attend.

Here, in an indispensable three-part series, we ask the experts to give their emergency guide to tackling these pesky conditions. This week it’s spots .  .  .

Party bags not needed: Follow our guide to a spotless Christmas Party

Party bags not needed: Follow our guide to a spotless Christmas Party


‘Act as soon as you feel the tingling or tenderness that may indicate a spot is about to appear,’ says dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting. ‘The most effective over-the-counter ingredient is salicylic acid.’

She recommends Neutrogena Visibly Clear Blackhead Eliminating Triple Action Cleanser (100ml, 4.49,

‘If you have an acute and inflamed breakout, use as a face mask for ten minutes or massage into the face and wash off.

Stay flawless: Follow the instructions to make sure you glow this holiday season

Stay flawless: Follow the instructions to make sure you glow this holiday season

It contains two per cent salicylic
acid, which breaks through the grime to penetrate deep into the pores
but is gentle enough to use every day.’

If you’re prone, have a prescription
antibiotic cream or lotion on standby to apply after this. ‘Ask your
doctor for one that also contains benzoyl peroxide, such as Duac Once.
This kills the bacteria on the skin that can cause infection.

Apply once a day or as directed by your doctor,’ says Dr Bunting. ‘Next, apply anti-inflammatory spot treatment Medik8 Betagel [15ml, 34,].

‘It contains salicylic acid, niacinamide, or Vitamin B3, which has an anti-inflammatory action and azelaic acid, an antibacterial yeast.’

Other salicylic options include Lytic Lotion by Epionce (49.95, 50ml, and Salicylic Acid 300 by Etat Pur (15ml, 12.20,

‘Apply the liquid with a cotton bud twice a day. Don’t over-use products or you’ll end up with a small hole.’

Finally, and once the blemish products are absorbed, apply a non-comedogenic moisturiser, which minimises clogging to the pores, such as La Roche Posay Effaclar H (8.05, 40ml,

‘Acne treatments can be a little drying. You still need a moisturiser to safeguard the quality of the skin around it. This creates a smooth base for make-up and neutralises some of the irritation.’


‘If I had a big night coming up, and a breakout at this stage, I’d use Duac Once [as instructed] as well as the two per cent salicylic acid in some form,’ says Dr Bunting. ‘Tea tree oil can be applied every 12 hours. It’s a natural anti-bacterial agent. There’s no point in using it with salicylic acid, as they work in the same way.’

Acne Attack – a salon treatment devised by cosmetic surgeon Alex Karidis (160,, London and Liverpool) – involves a hydrafacial which uses gentle suction to unblock congested pores, antioxidant serums and then blue light to kill the bacteria. There may be some redness afterwards so you need at least a day to allow skin to settle.


‘I’ve had celebrities coming to see me in desperation the day before they hit the red carpet,’ says dermatologist Professor Nick Lowe. ‘A localised injection of a very low concentration of cortisone will help a spot go down overnight. It’s vital you go to a trained dermatologist. Too much will cause dimpling of the skin.’

He also recommends a new in-clinic treatment called DermaSweep, which suctions the acne lesion and then infuses it with an anti-acne serum. ‘This could help on the day, but skin might look a little red,’ says Prof Lowe (

Or there is EF MediSpa’s in-clinic SOS spot treatment (from 77, Spots are zapped with Intense Pulsed Light, which kills the bacteria on the skin and closes down the sebaceous glands. If spots are really big, a special antibiotic treatment is added.

Leave it alone: Do not poke and prod if you get a spot - unless it you wake up with a whitehead on the day of the party

Leave it alone: Do not poke and prod if you get a spot – not even on the day


‘Avoid squeezing if possible, but on the day of the event, if there is a whitehead, it’s not going to go away by the evening,’ says cosmetic doctor, Dr Mervyn Patterson. ‘In the morning, warm the area to open up the pores using a hot flannel and then squeeze gently using two cotton buds so you don’t get marks from nails. Only apply pressure until the worst of the debris is removed and then dab at the small hole to remove excess moisture. Don’t squeeze till it bleeds as you’ll leave a mark. And never pick. Apply one application of salicylic acid after.’

Whether or not you’ve squeezed, Dr Bunting suggests blue light therapy on the day. ‘Do this for an hour. I recommend Lustre [299,]. It won’t irritate skin, reduces inflammation and neutralises the bacteria in the lesion.’

Arm yourself with Dermablend Fluid Corrective Foundation (13.15, 30ml, and Ultra Corrective Cream Stick by Vichy (16.15, 12g,

Look at for her tutorial on covering up blemishes. ‘I recommend this to my women patients – it’s excellent,’ says Dr Bunting. ‘For gentlemen, I have Dermablended my brother on many occasions and no one has noticed.’

Also try Colour Science, Let Me Be Clear, a primer that also contains salicylic acid (38, 30ml, Or Disappear camouflage cream by Jane Iredale (21.60, mineral The mineral base means it won’t clog pores further.