The Predicament of the Adult Zit

Me and my “little friend” after a masterful make-up job

I have to confess something.  It’s not going to be pretty but since most of my dignity has left the building about 48 hours ago, I might as well fess up.  I have adult acne.  You may not know this about me.  My skin used to be “my thing.”  When the puberty years struck, a pair of boobs and my period arrived before I entered junior high school.  My mother even called the mother of my best friend in sixth grade, begging the four of us to go bra-shopping as I refused to wear a bra before the rest of the 12 year old female population.  But I needed it.  So Lauren, good friend that she is (and has always been) and her understanding mom, Diane, went along for a bra fitting that only one of us needed.   Although I had to wear oversized t-shirts to hide my chest and was tortured by the threat of an oncoming period in elementary school where the girls’ bathrooms didn’t have a sanitary napkin box, I was blessed with perfect skin.  Occasionally, I’d get one really bad pimple – usually around my nose or chin, but it could easily be handled.

The good skin lasted until I turned 33.  That year, I decided it was time to go to the dermatologist for a regular check-up.  I had some moles that I wanted him to look at as skin cancer runs in my family.  Well, the doctor concluded that my moles looked just fine, but he did point out that I had “adult acne” and wrote me a prescription for some face cream.  The news completely destroyed my perfect image of my skin, but I had noticed some breaking out on my face at the time – so figured I’d give it a try.  The face cream seemed to do the job for the mild spots I had in the “T-zone” area of my face and life went on beautifully.  Acne free.  Well, until 48 hours ago.

I developed one of the worst zits known to mankind.  It’s one of those below-the-surface, painful types that you can’t quite squeeze out in an instant, but you can feel any time you move a facial muscle.  This crown jewel resides within the left part of my chin.  I tried examining it with a mirror, and only saw a slightly more pinkish area where my face hurt, indicating that something was brewing.   I stared at it multiple times throughout the day, trying to feel it with a finger, all the while hearing The Husband’s voice in the background saying, “Don’t touch it!” but not being able to see if it felt hard yet.

Yesterday morning I woke up and found that the zit had expanded.  I checked it out from all angles in my bathroom mirror and concluded that it needed to be worked on.  So I felt around, pinched and squeezed, but still this thing would not pop.  Close your eyes for this next sentence if you’re squeamish, but all that I could get out of it was a bit of that clear liquidy stuff that comes before the “good” white stuff.  Of course you can never tell if the liquidy substance is really draining the infection or is just an earlier form of good old fashioned puss.  If you haven’t thrown up yet, I’ll tell you what the result of poking and prodding an unripened zit before work results in: a big, red, oozing hole on your face.  This was a horror and I panicked over calling in sick.  Is there any reason why we can’t be entitled to 2-3 “Zit Days” for work?  Who wants to commute with people staring at my little friend, wondering if it’s herpes or if it’s going to explode on them?  When people come to see me in the office, do I explain about the zit or pretend it’s not there?  The worst part of all of this is that I think the timing and ferociousness of this zit is karma.  Let me explain.

Last week, a senior executive in my office was suffering with a similar predicament, only hers was silver dollar coin size and located directly under her nose, making it look like an off-centered Charlie Chaplin mustache.  In my head, I pondered the possibilities as to what this thing could be.  A shaving cut? Nah, it was too big and she probably didn’t shave a mustache.  A zit?  Nah, still too big.  A sore from a sexually transmitted disease?  Bingo. It had to be.  I admit that I participated in several discussions with other colleagues about the mysterious sore, finding it a tad too amusing.  Karma is a bitch and I’m paying the price.

I left the house yesterday after covering up my new addition with some powdered blemish treatment.  This is supposed to hide and treat the affected area at the same time.  I wasn’t fooling anyone.  At any mirror I passed throughout the day, the spot glared right back at me through the attempted disguise.  I avoided all straight on eye contact with colleagues throughout the day and thankfully did not have any meetings.  On the train commute home, I buried my head in a book and sat on the left side of the train, so anybody looking in my direction would not be distracted by my third eye.

Later that night, I managed to forget about it.  The Husband was at the movies with a friend and I went for a run in Central Park.  Then came a shower, dinner and getting lost in Sex and the City – the first movie, which was unexpectedly playing on TV last night.  Right around the time Carrie Bradshaw’s friends went off to Mexico to accompany her on a would-be honeymoon,  The Husband walked in to our apartment.  He took three steps into the door towards me and let out a, “What did you DO to that thing?”  It took me a second to understand what he was talking about and in that time he came up to me, grabbed my face and tried to get a closer look.   I asked him if he wanted to name it at which point he offered to get me a band-aid and some Neosporin ointment.   If this is not a soulmate, I’m not sure what is.  He did spend the rest of the night on the opposite side of the couch, probably hoping he wouldn’t get infected or perhaps to avoid nightmares.

Today I woke up hoping for some relief, but it was not in the cards.  The zit was still puffy and was starting to scab up, giving it a blackish, marroon tint.  The powder form blemish treatment would not work on this disaster.  I ended up trying a Neutrogena “Skin Clearing” oil-free makeup blemish treatment that The Husband had bought once for an on-camera commercial audition when he had his own “friend” appear on his face.  He made me swear that I wouldn’t take it with me to work as I have the tendency to never give things back, but drastic measures were needed this morning.  You wouldn’t leave the house without a tissue if you had a cold, right?   How could I leave home without ample zit defense?

As soon as my Scottish Work Friend showed up in my office this morning, I couldn’t help but do a zit confession.  The makeup helped, but you could still tell there was a dime sized crater on my face.   I couldn’t have her wondering what it was all day, so figured I’d save her some time.  She was her usual kind self, telling me that it was barely noticeable.   Progress is being made on this thing.  I have managed to keep my hands away from the area for the entire day – no picking, not even the flaky parts.   I’m still in favor of the entitlement to “Zit Days” where you can call in zitty and be allowed to wear a bag over your head at home for as long as it takes to be presentable again.

On a bright note,  I think having adult acne must mean that I’m getting younger.  It’s got to be a sign of youth, right?  Perhaps I should wear this thing with honor, like a really good haircut or a new handbag.  Let’s start a rumor that having zits as an adult is trendy.  It’s the new botox.  The fountain of youth.  In fact, I’m going to end this blog so I can check it out in the mirror 16 more times today before I squeeze, poke and prod it into a really good mess.



  1. You blog had me laughing so hard my husband actually looked up from the T.v to see what I was laughing about! I too suffer from adult acne, but I am only 27 and it started really bad in my early 20’s, so I totally get the “It’s one of those below-the-surface, painful types that you can’t quite squeeze out in an instant, but you can feel any time you move a facial muscle.” description since I get those when I am having a very stressful eek. It took me years to find a cleanser that actually worked and I finally found it in Clinique’s acne line. I love it because you can mix and match lotions and toners to your acne type and they even have all day wear makeup that has some of the same acne medication in it so you aren’t just covering it up you are medicating it too. For really bad ones I use a great concealer called Conceal FX (not clinique) and it works great, I get extra light even though I have a darker complexion to give it extra coverage!

    All said, I would love to Zit-days so that I didn’t have to go thru the work of covering it up and feeling like every one is starting! You are so brave to share, so thank you!

    • Anon A – thanks so much for your kind comment. Glad you enjoyed this post. I hesitated posting it as it’s kind of embarrassing, definitely disgusting and didn’t want to draw more attention to this thing than necessary, but then realized there was no hiding it. I will definitely look into these products – I’m pretty sure this zit will have friends coming out in all different places soon enough.

  2. Thanks for saying I was my usual kind self – I really didn’t think your zit was that bad, probably because I was comparing it to the giant zit that I myself been sporting for the last few days!! At least your husband is a lot more understanding than mine, ever since mine scabbed over from too much picking my husband has been calling me ‘jamface’ on the basis my it looks like I have leftover jam on my face from breakfast. Charming!

    • SWF – you so did not have a giant zit. But even if you think you do, my zit would be proud to be friends with your zit. Jamface is actually really funny. Mean, but funny. My Husband is not THAT understanding. Tonight he said, “Your zits are my zits, but I’m really glad they’re on you and not me.” Sweet.

  3. Christine says:

    I think your post was hysterical! I actually just had one of those type of pimples on my chin. My husband kept staring at it and was like are you going to pop it and I’m like I can’t. ugh so frustrating and it finally popped and has been slowly going away but I think I have used all my makeup trying to cover it. I haven’t been as lucky as you though I’ve had acne since I was a teenager and it has gotten better as I have gotten older and now I get a pimple here and there, but they are still annoying.

    I do agree though we should have “zit” days for work or life haha.

    • Christine, sorry to hear about your pimple, but thanks for writing in! Tell your hubby it’s not nice to stare. My husband knows it pisses me off, so he purposely stares. Then he likes to tell me it’s not that bad with a straight face and then cracking up seconds later. Rude!

  4. The secret to dealing with “craters” is to put as many hot compresses on themas you can, to bring them up asap. Then use a fine sterilized needle to pop the whitehead. Just press gently with a kleenex around it to get as much of the pus out… will not get the core of it yet. Then put on neo or polysporin. The next day it will come up again but the head will be bigger. Treat it the same way and the core should come right out. It is still a total pain but you won’t get called “jamface” and it will heal much faster as you haven’t made a mess of it. I have learned this from many craters over many years and you have my total sympathy. Why do they have to be right in the middle of your face.,….why not behind your ear?

  5. When I look too closely at my face I find things to pick at. Luckily, with having two little ones I don’t have much time to look closely at anything but them. The other night there was something in one of the pores in the middle of my forehead. I kept picking and picking even though the voice in my head I try to listen to but often don’t, kept telling me to knock it off. Well, nothing came from the picking except a big scab and frustration. I used Neosporin and hoped for the best. A few nights later it was finally starting to look a lot better. I was combing my hair and jammed the comb into my forehead and made it bleed… right in the same spot where I had picked and picked before. So, I’ve had a scab in the middle of my forehead for almost two weeks. I should have just listened to that voice in my head and calmed down while combing my hair. :o) I love reading your blog and am loving the variety of topics you amuse me with!!

  6. Hi Stace… don’t know if you are still reading comments to this post or not…
    Baking Soda is a wonderful tool to exfoliate and keep the pH of your face in check/healthy. Your skin will feel smooth and the little crusties that you wanna pick off will be gone. Just make a paste with water. I use it in in the shower and my elbows feel divine!

  7. Stacey, Who but YOU would think of posting about ZITS??? Not a sign of age but of HORMONES! (There is infantile acne—poor newborns). Here’s a home remedy for pimples (not for acne):
    Lavendar oil (essential oil). It is miraculous! but use only the real thing. Beware of synthetic lavendar oil, or «lavandin» a similar plant but not lavendar. APPLY ON CLEAN FACE, DIRECTLY ON THE PIMPLE, A TINY DROP (ONLY) OF LAVENDAR ESSENTIAL OIL. Also, as stated, *never* rub or touch or pick at a pimple. Soil and bacteria get into it causing infection, thus making it worse. HANDS OFF! And drink water.

  8. Take some encouragement Stacey…it sounds like you have some random pimples, not exactly acne (if so it’s very minor). Take it from someone who’s dealt w/ acne non stop since puberty hit, and I’m almost 30, and I started puberty the same time as you (11). I have a hormonal condition which basically means mine will never go away so I get to live w/ it forever – yay! Okay, sorry if this sounds like I’m trying to ‘one up’ you – I’m not. I’m just trying to reassure you that if you have acne, it is mild. I would consider my acne gone if I only ever had just one pimple at a time.

    Also, don’t even use that cheap Neutrogena stuff. Use something totally natural like a mineral makeup. It’s not like that other powder stuff you tried that didn’t cover, as long as you get the right kind. I really like Bare Escentuals, it works really well and is good for your skin too. I used it for my wedding and no one could see my acne that day. I hope this helps. : )

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