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Dozens Of White Things Popping Out Of My Face When I Wash, Is This Acne?

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So to start I am a 25 year old male and I've had moderate acne for most of my life, and fairly bad acne when I was 16 before I went on accutane. Since then my acne has only been mild but it does go through stressful stages and I have to try hard to not touch my face. Another thing about me is that I've never had a lot of facial hair, it's kinda patchy and it doesn't grow fast or thick enough to look good so I've never grown it out, but I still shave daily because it helps my skin feel better.

About 8 months ago I had a stress related breakdown and I took it out on my face by obsessing over in-grown hairs. After things settled down a bit I tried a salicylic acid solution for the first time and something interesting happened. For the first time my pores really opened up and I could see just how much facial hair I really had, turns out most of my facial hair is beneath the surface of my skin and isn't really growing, especially in areas where I used to have bad acne. I tried not to obsess over this revelation too much but I started using salicylic acid and gentle cleansers more often than I should have, and during this process I noticed that when I massaged my face with cleanser (in this case cetaphil gentle skin cleanser) little white things started popping out of my face. I noticed that the harder I massaged my face the more of these things would pop out and with shocking intensity.

I can't quite tell what these things are but they're coming out of the pores of my skin, they're milky white but quite watery, they pop with enough velocity to hit the mirror a foot away from my face and they come in great quantity. By the time I'm done washing my bathroom mirror has almost 100 of these gross white spots on it and I'm not totally sure what they are. They could be:

1) Whiteheads that indicate that most of my skin is clogged

2) A mixture of oil and skin cleanser that shot out of my skin

3) Just water and skin cleanser that gets into my pores and shoots back out

So I'm not totally sure what they are, but after rinsing like this I do have a few noticeable pores opened up on my face (but not 100s) and it stings a little when I apply salicylic acid again... Has anyone else had experiences like this? Either way I suppose I am washing too vigourously, but I just wanted to know if anybody else has experienced this, and if soap alone is capable of creating this illusion...

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Hmm, I will see what I can do about that picture... In the meantime I am using cetaphil gentle skin cleanser and nutraderm simple moisturizer. For salicylic acid I am using a no name astringent cleanser for sensitive skin with 0.5% salicylic acid, but this also has alcohol so I may switch. Sometimes I also use a Nutragena astringent cleanser with 2% salicylic acid. Does anybody know what the corresponding PH values are for these concentrations?

Once every 2 or 3 days I use an exfoliator with clay and micro-beads etc.

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I don't have any experience with Accutane, so some of what you are experiencing may be from that. I does sound like you are using more products than you may need to use. I'm no fan of Cetaphil, but I know others are. I like Salicylic Acid but use it in the form of crushed up aspirin , but not every day, maybe 3 times a week as it is an exfoliator. Also for a moisturizer you could go something simpler like an oil. I like excellent quality olive oil (with a bottling date and expiration date), but others prefer jojoba. Just one little dab goes a long way. Basically, try to reduce the amount of chemicals you put on your face and see if it makes a difference.

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