What are pimples?
Pimples on the face, also known as acne, are a common skin problem. It affects most teenagers and some adults. Pimples occur due to inflamed or infected sebaceous glands. These glands are responsible for the production of an oily substance called sebum that protects the skin. Although pimples are often a persistent problem, they can be treated.
Symptoms of pimples
There are different ways in which pimples can present. They include:
- Whiteheads: These are small tissues that appear when dead skin, oil, and bacteria get trapped within your pores.
- Blackheads: These are pimples that are easily spotted on the surface of your skin. They are either black or dark brown. Such pimples can easily be mistaken for dirt and should not be rubbed vigorously to avoid skin irritation and other problems.
- Papules: These types of pimples are usually small, solid, and rounded bumps. They rise from the skin and are often pink in color.
- Pustules: These types of pimples are clearly visible on the surface of the skin and are usually full of pus. The base of this pimple is red, while the pus can clearly be seen at the top.
- Nodules: Nodules have a similar structure to papules, but this type of pimple is much larger and a bit more painful.
- Cysts: This type of pimple occurs below the first few layers of skin. They are usually filled with pus and are extremely painful. Acne scarring is often caused by cysts.
Causes of pimples
Pimples usually occur when pores are blocked with sebum and dead skin When sebum and dead skin cells accumulate and block a pore in the skin, undesired bacteria may grow. An example is Propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes which is a slow-growing bacteria linked to the development of acne.
The existence of these bacteria on our skin is harmless. However, if the conditions of its environment are right, it can easily reproduce more rapidly and become a problem. Although pimples are related to bacterial infection, they cannot be spread from one person to the other.
Who can get pimples?
If a close blood relative had a history of a certain type of acne, you are more likely to develop similar pimples.
Hormones are another cause of pimples in teenagers. During puberty, hormones called androgens increase and fluctuate. These hormones are required for different processes like growth, reproduction, and well-being and often increase the size of the skin’s oil glands. These glands start making more oil, leading to clogged pores.
Treatments for pimples
Pimples can be treated using the following methods:
Your doctor may prescribe the following medication:
- Antibiotics: Oral antibiotics may be prescribed to treat pimples that are rooted deep in the pore. This includes nodules and cysts. Antibiotics help in killing bacteria, which reduces inflammation and allows pores to clear. However, the bacteria involved in acne may develop a resistance to antibiotics and blemishes may reappear.
- Birth control pills: Oestrogen found in birth control pills has been shown to reduce the effect of hormones linked to acne. If your skin gets red and inflamed with blemishes regularly appearing along your chin or jawline, hormones may be responsible. If your doctor prescribes birth control pills, they must be taken daily and can result in skin improvement within three to four months.
- Topical products containing Benzoyl peroxide, retinoids, or salicylic acid. Creams containing these ingredients are available over-the-counter or by prescription and should not always be used in combination.
You can keep your skin from clogging using the following home-based care remedies:
- Clean your skin gently with a mild, non-drying soap twice per day and after exercising. Avoid roughly scrubbing your skin.
- Avoid oil-based cosmetics.
- Comb your hair backward to keep it out of your face.
- Avoid using rubbing alcohol or toners that are very drying to the skin.
- Shampoo your hair daily if it tends to be oily.
Complications and side effects of pimples
Some of the treatments used for pimples may have some side effects or cause complications. Usually, the treated area may experience mild dryness. This is a common side effect of topical antibiotics.
Skin irritation and sensitivity from topical treatments is rarely severe, but you should always consult with your dermatologist when experiencing side effects. Your doctor may recommend that you stop using the product. Solutions and gels are more likely to cause irritation than lotions.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Apollo Clinic: "Pimples."
Dermatology Online Journal: "Acne in Adolescents: Quality of Life, Self-Esteem, Mood and Psychological Disorders."
Harvard Health Publishing: "Acne: What you need to know."
NYU Langone Health: "Oral Medications for Acne."
National Health Service: "Diagnosis - Acne."
National Health Service: "Treatment - Acne."