Pimples (also known as Acne or Zits) are a common skin condition caused by clogged or inflamed oil glands or an increased presence of pimple-causing bacteria on your skin. They’re a symptom of acne, and there are many different types, including blackheads, whiteheads, cysts and others.
Six different types of pimples.
What are pimples?
Pimples are small growths on the surface of your skin. They may become inflamed or discoloured.
Acne typically causes pimples to develop, most commonly on:
- pimples on face
- pimples on chest
- pimples on shoulders
- pimples on upper back
- pimple on lip
- pimple on butt (butt pimples)
- pimples on neck
- pimple under armpit (armpit pimple)
- pimple on breast
- pimple around mouth
- pimple under eye
- pimple under armpit
- pimple on upper lip
- pregnancy pimples
- pimple on lip line
- pimple on earlobe
- pimples on arms
- pimples on inner thighs female
- pimples on chest female
- pimples on legs
- pimple on inner thigh
- pimple on my eyelid
- pimple on lower lip
- small pimples on body
- pimple inside ear
- pimples on jawline
- pimples on upper eyelid
- pimples on thighs
- pimples on my lip
- pimple on stomach
- pimple on stomach
- pimple on eyebrow
- pimple on hand
pimple in nose
What’s the difference between acne and pimples?
Acne is a disease. Pimples may be a symptom of acne.
Who do pimples affect?
Pimples typically affect teenagers (adolescents) and young adults undergoing hormonal changes. However, they can affect babies, and many adults continue to have pimples into their 20s, 30s and beyond. Some even develop pimples for the first time as adults.
How common are pimples?
Pimples are very common. Some researchers suggest that pimples affect nearly everyone at some time during their lives. They’re most common during adolescence, but adults may have them, too.
How do pimples affect my body?
Your face (especially your nose, chin and forehead, and sometimes your cheeks or around your lips), neck, back, chest and upper arms are most likely to develop pimples. However, oil glands are all over your body. They release an oily lubricant called sebum that helps keep your skin and hair hydrated and shiny. As a result, though it isn’t common, pimples sometimes appear on your eyelids (styes), butt, ears, scalp, armpits (axilla) and external genitals (penis or labia).
Pimples don’t seriously affect your physical health, but they can affect you psychosocially (how society and social groups affect your mind) and psychologically (your self-perception and behavior). They’re sometimes associated with anxiety, depression, mood disorders and suicidal thoughts.
SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES
What are the symptoms of pimples?
There are many types of pimples, and the symptoms depend on which kind you have. These include:
- Blackheads: These are open pores on your skin that contain excess oil and dead skin. It looks like there’s a speck of dirt or a dark spot in the bump. But irregular light reflection off the clogged follicle causes the dark spots.
- Whiteheads: These are bumps that remain closed by oil and dead skin. They’re white or yellowish in appearance.
- Pustules: These are pus-filled pimples that look like whiteheads surrounded by discoloured rings. Picking or scratching your pustules can cause scarring.
- Papule: These are small bumps that may become inflamed (warm to the touch and painful).
- Papules: These are rounded or unusually shaped masses. They may be deep in your skin, and they’re often painful.
- Cysts: These are pimples filled with a thick, yellow or white fluid composed of dead white blood cells, small pieces of tissue and bacteria (pus). Cysts can cause scars.
What causes a pimple to form?
Sometimes, skin gets irritated by things it comes in contact with and pimples develop. Most people think of acne when they think of pimples. Oil glands (sebaceous glands) are located all over your body. Clogs or inflammation in your sebaceous glands cause pimples to form. Clogs and inflammation can occur as a result of:
- Increased sebum (oily material produced by the sebaceous gland) production.
- Abnormal formation of keratin (the protein that helps make your hair, skin and nails).
- Increased presence of bacteria on your skin that causes pimples.
Are pimples contagious?
Pimples aren’t contagious. You can’t spread them to another person through skin-to-skin contact.
DIAGNOSIS AND TESTS
How are pimples diagnosed?
Pimples are easy to recognize, so you don’t necessarily need a healthcare professional to diagnose them. But your healthcare provider can diagnose pimples during a skin exam.
They may ask if you’re undergoing significant stress or if you have a family history of pimples, which are risk factors. If you menstruate, your healthcare provider may ask about your menstrual cycles, as pimple breakouts are sometimes related. Sudden, severe pimple outbreaks in people 50 years of age or older can sometimes signal another underlying disease that requires medical attention.
If you have severe pimples (cystic acne), see a dermatologist for treatment. Dermatologists are doctors who specialize in conditions that affect your skin, hair and nails.
MANAGEMENT AND TREATMENT
How do you get rid of a pimple?
Non-prescription medications can get rid of milder cases of pimples. Some medications include:
- Azelaic acid: This is a natural acid found in various grains such as barley, wheat and rye. It kills microorganisms on your skin and reduces swelling.
- Benzoyl peroxide: This is available as an over-the-counter product. Lower concentrations and wash formulations are less irritating to your skin. Irritation (dryness) is a common side effect.
- Retinoids (vitamin A derivatives): Using retinoids every other day or using them at the same time as a moisturizer can reduce these side effects.
- Salicylic acid: This is available over-the-counter for pimples as a cleanser or lotion. (Example: Kleerzit) It helps dissolve dead skin cells to prevent your hair follicles from clogging.
If your pimples don’t go away with non-prescription medications, your healthcare provider may recommend prescription medications, including antibiotics and oral hormone replacement.
Other therapies may include:
- Chemical peels: Chemical peels use a mild chemical solution to remove layers of skin and reduce pimples.
- Laser skin resurfacing: Laser skin resurfacing directs short, concentrated pulsating beams of light at your pimples. The light beams reduce the amount of oil that your sebaceous glands produce.
- Microdermabrasion: A dermatologist or plastic surgeon uses a specialized instrument to “sand” your skin. Removing the top layers of your skin frees the clogs that cause pimples.
Should I squeeze or pop my pimples?
Popping pimples can be very tempting — and satisfying. However, it’s best if you don’t squeeze or pop your pimples. Squeezing pimples can cause several problems, including:
- Introducing bacteria into the pimple opening. Bacteria can cause an infection.
- Irritating your skin. Your skin is sensitive, and your nails are much stronger than your skin. When you use your nails to apply a lot of pressure to your skin to pop a pimple, you can cause inflammation. Pimple-popping tools (blemish extractors) can also damage your skin. Only a healthcare provider, medical aesthetician or dermatologist should use these tools.
- Scarring your skin. You can draw blood and seriously damage your skin if you apply too much pressure. If pimples are deep in your skin, you may not even extract them.
How long do pimples last?
Pimples usually last between three and seven days. Most pimples go away on their own, but it may take some time. Deep pimples (pimples under your skin with no head that may feel hard to the touch) may take a few weeks to go away, if not longer.
It’s better to see your healthcare provider at the first sign of pimples and follow their treatment suggestions.
What can’t I eat or drink if I have pimples?
Healthcare providers and researchers once believed that certain foods might contribute to the development of pimples, especially skim milk, whey protein and diets high in sugar (including chocolate). However, that may not be true. The research between diet and pimples isn’t clear.
But certain vitamins promote healthy skin, which may help prevent pimples. These include:
- Vitamin A: Good sources of vitamin A include leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomatoes, fruits, fish and liver.
- Vitamin D: Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, trout and tuna) and vitamin-fortified foods, including dairy and non-daily milks, breakfast cereals and orange juice.
- Vitamin E: Good sources of vitamin E include nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables and vegetable oils.
How should I manage my pimples?
If you have pimples, be careful managing them to avoid irritation. You can do this by:
- Not touching or picking at your pimples.
- Being careful around your pimples while shaving.
- Regularly cleaning items that touch your face, including your cell phone, sports helmets, sunglasses, clothing and pillowcases.
You can also use over-the-counter acne medications like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These come in many forms. A wash is the least irritating.
How can I prevent pimples?
Preventing pimples is difficult, if not impossible, during normal hormonal changes. But the following tips may help:
- Wash your face once or twice daily with warm water and a mild facial cleanser.
- Routinely use moisturizers made for your face — be sure they have no perfumes and are non-comedogenic (not acne causing).
- You don’t have to stop using makeup, but try using non-comedogenic products and always remove your makeup at the end of each day.
- Routinely wash your hair — be sure to include your hairline along your forehead.
- Keep hair gels and other products away from your face.
- Try not to touch your skin on your face with your hands.
OUTLOOK / PROGNOSIS
What can I expect if I have pimples?
Pimples often go away in early adulthood, though some people will continue having them throughout their lives. Your healthcare provider can help you manage your pimples.
When should I see my healthcare provider about my pimples?
If you get a large outbreak of pimples at once or if you have pimples that get large, discoloured or painful, you should see your healthcare provider.
What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?
- How severe are my pimples?
- Do I need to see a medical aesthetician or dermatologist?
- Do you recommend specific medications?
- How long will they last?
- Do I need more serious treatment?
Acne can be treated either topically or systemically.
The systemic use of anti-biotics is normally reserved for a last line of treatment, which is why topical treatment is most often recommended first.
The essence of topical treatments are mainly restricted to cleaning and moisturising.
The Dermasure Range offers a combination of three products for this purpose, which is also known as the Dermasure Acne-Prone Pack.
1. Kleerzit Facial Cleanser | 150ml
Kleerzit Facial Cleanser contains a mild Salicylic Acid base in a non-irritant foam base, ideally suited for exfoliation and the deep cleansing of blocked skin-pores.
Exfoliating can often result is the feeling dryness, which will be resolved when applying the Hydration Moisturising Cream.
2. Dermaclens Skin Cleanser | 150ml
Dermaclens Skin Cleanser is a gentle fragrance-free cleansing lotion and often used in combination with Kleerzit.
These two products can be alternated mornings and evenings, daily or even weekly. It all depends on your personal preferences.
3. Hydration Moisturising Cream | 75ml
Hydration Moisturising Cream is essential, especially after a thorough cleaning of the skin. The importance of moisturizing is to replenish and moisturise the skin, without (re)blocking the skin pores.
Hydration Moisturising Cream is formulated to be completely absorbed upon application, leaving the skin silky smooth and without any greasiness.
For more, please find our Acne BlogBack to Skin Type or Concern