To squeeze or not to squeeze – that is the question! Most of us are guilty of squeezing those red and bulbous pimples that keep popping up on our faces from time to time. However, popping pimples is not the best way to get rid of them. You need a systematic approach involving self-care, lifestyle and diet changes, and a thorough skin care routine to prevent and get rid of pimples. In this article, we have discussed the causes of pimples and tips and remedies to prevent them. Scroll down to get started.
Table Of Contents
Why Do We Get Pimples?
According to the dictionary, a pimple is an inflamed spot on your skin. A pimple is a type of acne that can occur at any age and at any time.
Before you try to treat it, you need to understand why you get pimples or acne. Mentioned below are the factors responsible for this condition:
- Clogged Pores: When the pores or sebaceous glands are blocked, they cannot release sebum (an oily substance that keeps your skin moisturized). A build-up of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria in the area causes acne or a pimple.
- Genetics: If there is a history of acne in your family, it is likely that you will have it too. Your genes determine how sensitive your skin is to hormonal fluctuation, how quickly it sheds its cells, how much sebum it produces, and how it responds to inflammation. All these factors determine how readily you develop pimples.
- Hormones: Your estrogen and testosterone levels are directly related to pimples. That’s why you most often get pimples during puberty and pregnancy and when you are menstruating.
- Stress: Studies show that stress aggravates acne (1), (2). The sebaceous glands contain the receptors for stress hormones. When you are stressed, the hormones increase the sebum production in your skin and cause acne.
- Depression: Depression is linked to acne and vice versa. Studies have found that acne is linked to an increased risk of depression (3), (4).
- Smoking: The relationship between smoking and acne is unclear. Clinical studies have found that smoking is an important contributory factor to the prevalence and severity of acne (5). Smoking often reduces oxygen flow to the skin cells, disrupts hormonal balance, and slows down the healing process.
- Alcohol Consumption: Although alcohol does not cause acne, it affects the levels of the hormones that regulate acne. A study found that alcohol could increase testosterone levels in women. It also shoots up estradiol (a form of estrogen) levels in women (6).
- Diet: Although the relationship between diet and acne is debatable, specific foods (such as processed and sugary foods) can make your condition worse while other foods (such as seafood and veggies) can make it better.
Whether hormonal issues or genetic factors triggered your pimples or acne, a dermatologist can help diagnose and treat the root cause. In case the pimples are caused by lifestyle issues or any other factors (other than genetics and hormonal conditions), there are ways to manage them. Here are a few tips you can follow.
How To Prevent Pimples And Acne
1. Wash Your Face Properly
Thorough cleansing is the backbone of any skin care routine. Use a mild and non-comedogenic cleanser to clean your face twice daily – once in the morning and once before going to bed. Cleanse your face if you sweat heavily. However, avoid washing it just because it feels oily. Use a blotting paper to remove the oil from your skin. Also, use warm water while washing to open up the pores.
2. Know Your Skin Type
This is important as it will help you choose the right skin care products for your skin type. Products that are suitable for oily skin are not ideal for dry skin. Oily skin is the most prone to pimples because the sebaceous glands are overactive and produce a lot of sebum. Combination skin is also prone to pimples on the T-zone.
3. Keep Your Skin Moisturized
Moisturizing your skin is essential for pimple prevention. However, avoid moisturizers that contain chemicals and synthetic fragrances. Always go for non-comedogenic moisturizers so that your skin does not feel dry after every wash.
4. Use Acne Medication
There are over-the-counter medications available in drugstores that you can use to treat acne and pimples. Consult a dermatologist before taking any medicines. Also, make sure you follow the instructions properly.
5. Drink Water (A Lot Of It!)
When your body is dehydrated, it signals your skin to produce more oil to keep it moisturized. This increases inflammation and worsens acne.
6. Use Makeup Wisely
You may be tempted to cover up your acne and scars with makeup. However, makeup can clog your pores further and aggravate your condition. When using makeup, choose non-comedogenic and non-greasy formulas. Also, avoid heavy foundations and concealers.
7. Avoid Touching The Pimple
Your fingers are home to germs and bacteria that might get transferred to your skin. Hence, do not squeeze, touch, or scratch the pimple.
8. Keep Yourself Sun-Safe
Long-term sun exposure dehydrates your skin and makes it produce more oil, causing blocked pores and breakouts. Carry an umbrella and use sunscreen if you are heading out.
9. Check Your Diet
What you eat reflects on your skin. Hence, be mindful of what you are putting on your plate. A review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology suggests that certain foods can worsen acne. Foods with a high glycemic index, such as baked goodies, chips, soft drinks, and those made with white flour, can aggravate acne. Dairy products were found to trigger acne breakouts in some cases (7).
10. No Scrubbing
Avoid using face scrubs if you have acne. Avoid cleaning your face with cloth pads or washcloths. Scrubbing already irritated skin causes further inflammation and exacerbates pimples or acne breakouts.
11. Check Your Hair Care Products
Hair care products (shampoos, conditioners, and styling products) contain chemicals and oils that may clog the pores and cause acne and pimples near the hairline, forehead, and neck. This type of acne is often called Acne cosmetica. Use products that are non-comedogenic, oil-free, and non-acnegenic. Also, after using any hair product, wash the scalp well to clear any residue.
12. Reduce Stress
Stress can also cause pimples and acne. Try to cut down your stress levels by doing meditation or any other activity that keeps you happy and stress-free.
13. Keep The Facial Accessories Clean
If you use makeup brushes, beauty blenders, facial cleaning brushes, make sure to keep them clean. Using unclean accessories that contain germs may cause pimples and acne. Hence, wash them thoroughly after every use.
Along with controlling your lifestyle habits, you also need to apply topical medications for acne. You may get over-the-counter medicines, ointments, and serums, or the doctor may prescribe medicines, depending on the nature and severity of your condition. Let’s take a look at the potential treatments for pimples or acne.
Alternative Treatments To Stop Pimples And Acne
- Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide is a very common ingredient in acne/pimple treatment creams (8). Usually, you will find creams containing 2.5%, 5%, or 10% benzoyl peroxide. Mild acne may require a low percentage of the ointment, while severe acne might need a higher percentage of benzoyl peroxide. Consult your doctor before making your purchase because the wrong percentage of the cream can make your skin dry and worsen your condition.
- Salicylic Acid
Compared to benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid is a safer treatment option for acne. It treats the condition without damaging your skin. It has keratolytic properties that dissolve the keratin and exfoliates the lesion (acne or a pimple), thus calming the inflammation (9).
This antibacterial agent has been used for treating acne since the time of the ancient Egyptians. It dries or shrinks the pimple, thus reducing the inflammation. Sulfur doesn’t dehydrate your skin and is milder than benzoyl peroxide (10).
This is a type of trans-retinoic acid that is used for treating acne during its initial stages. It has comedolytic properties, which means it unclogs your pores, boosts the growth of new cells, and ensures smooth flow of sebum (11).
- Azelaic Acid
Azelaic acid has anti-inflammatory properties and is used for treating moderate acne. The effect of 20% azelaic acid was studied for acne treatment, and it was found that it was as effective as tretinoin cream in treating acne (12).
- Laser Treatment
Laser treatment is often used for treating moderate to severe acne and is considered a safe and effective method. This is a low or no-risk treatment option that uses light beams for clearing acne. However, it is not a stand-alone treatment. You have to use medicines along with the treatment procedure for complete clearance (13).
- Chemical Peeling
When done under the supervision of a professional, chemical peeling works like magic for skin brightening and treating acne and hyperpigmentation. It helps in reducing acne scars and other skin issues. The procedure may cause mild discomfort and irritation that can be managed easily (14).
This process involves gentle exfoliation of the affected area using handheld devices with diamond-studded tips for abrasing the skin and vacuum suction for removing it. This topical peeling procedure is widely popular and is safe and effective for treating mild to severe acne (15).
If you have mild pimples or acne, you can also try home remedies for treating it.
How To Prevent Pimples Using Home Remedies
|Ingredient||How It Helps|
|Tea Tree Oil||It has antibacterial properties that help prevent acne and pimples. Click here to learn more.|
|Honey||It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that help in reducing inflammation. Click here to learn more.|
|Aloe Vera||Apart from having antibacterial properties, it also helps in calming your skin. Click here to learn more.|
|Ice Cube||Rubbing an ice cube on the pimple reduces inflammation. For more details, click here.|
|Toothpaste||You can use toothepaste for treating acne and pimples. To learn how, click here.|
|Aspirin||Aspirin is not just used for relieving pain but also for managing acne. To learn how, click here.|
Don’t panic if you get a pimple – because that will only worsen the issue. Be patient with the treatment plan. Do not expect the acne or pimples to go away overnight. Stick to the treatment process you have chosen after consulting your dermatologist, and give your skin time to heal.
Frequently Asked Questions
At what age will I stop getting pimples?
Pimples should go away mostly once you are in your mid-20s, and the hormones in your body get balanced. However, if you have any hormonal issues, you may still continue to get pimples and acne.
How to stop pimples from growing?
Do not touch or poke the pimple. Visit a dermatologist and apply the prescribed medication to prevent further inflammation.
- The association between stress and acne among female medical students in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- The Impact of Pyschological Stress on Acne., Acta Dermato- venereologica, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Comparison of Anxiety And Depression In Patients With Acne Vulgaris and Healthy Individuals, Indian Journal of Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Risk of depression among patients with acne in the U.K.: a population‐based cohort study, British Journal of Dermatology, ResearchGate.
- Epidemiology of acne in the general population: the risk of smoking, The British Journal of Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Acute effect of alcohol on androgens in premenopausal women. Alcohol and Alcoholism, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Diet and Acne, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
- What is the Role of Benzoyl Peroxide Cleansers in Acne Management? The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Treatment of acne vulgaris with salicylic acid pads. Clinical Therapeutics, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- An update on the management of acne vulgaris, Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Tretinoin: A Review of Its Anti-inflammatory Properties in the Treatment of Acne, The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Clinical studies of 20% azelaic acid cream in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Comparison with vehicle and topical tretinoin., Acta Dermato- venereologica, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Light-based therapies in acne treatment, Indian Dermatology Online Journal, Us National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Efficacy and safety of superficial chemical peeling in treatment of active acne vulgaris, Anais Brasileiros De Dermatologia, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- The use of microdermabrasion for acne: a pilot study. Dermatologic Surgery, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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