A pimple is a small lesion on the skin caused due to inflammation. Pimples form when the sebaceous or oil glands get clogged. The oil glands are present at the base of the follicles. They start producing an excess amount of oil due to various reasons and when this happens, the oil combines with dirt, dead skin cells and bacteria. This leads to the formation of a pimple. A breakout of pimples is known as acne. Acne mostly occurs on the face, but can also develop on the chest and back. Acne is widely regarded as a teenage problem as it tends to occur most often during puberty, when hormonal changes in the body lead to an increased production of oil. Acne also includes blackheads and whiteheads that are actually clogged pores. Some pimples occur as deep boils or cysts and result in redness, pain and swelling in the affected area. There is a wide variety of skin care and medicinal products available today for acne. You can also consult a dermatologist if you are bothered by frequent or widespread acne. A good skin care routine will help to prevent pimple breakouts to some extent.

Pimples Picture

Symptoms of Pimples

Symptoms of pimples include the following:

  • Pimples may first appear as clogged pores in the form of whiteheads or blackheads in the facial area, neck, shoulders and chest. When these congested pores attract dirt and bacteria, they become inflamed and red. Most often an outbreak of pimples leads to acne.
  • Mild cases of acne may include only blackheads and whiteheads. Occasionally these blemishes may get infected and become pimples.
  • Severe cases of acne may lead to the formation of several pimples covering large areas of the skin.
  • Some people are prone to cystic lesions, which are larger than pimples and deeper. These lesions may contribute to a great deal of pain and usually leave scars.
  • Acne may persist for only a few weeks, or for as long as a few months and even years.
  • Because of its adverse effects on appearance, acne can cause low self-esteem and feelings of depression.

Causes of Pimples

There are various factors that contribute to acne. Acne occurs when the sebaceous glands are stimulated into producing more oil. The oil or sebum is naturally produced by the body in order to lubricate and protect the skin. Along with increased sebum production, there is also an accelerated maturation of the skin cells. Thus the skin cells begin to clog the openings of the pores. This leads to the gradual enlargement of the pore and its walls may rupture, allowing dirt and bacteria to enter. This results in inflammation. The common factors that are involved in the occurrence of acne include:

  • Genetics – Severe acne may sometimes run in families.
  • Foods – Oily foods, junk food and sweets do not cause acne, but they can affect overall health and make the body more vulnerable to infections and illnesses.
  • Stress – Stress can lead to hormonal imbalances in the body, but it is not believed to be a direct cause of acne. Acne may however worsen in individuals who experience severe stress. Certain medications used to treat stress or anxiety could also contribute to the development of acne.
  • Dirt – While it would be an oversimplification to state that dirt or the lack of cleanliness are responsible for pimples and acne, inflammation occurs when the dead skin cells combine with dirt and bacteria.
  • Dirt – While it would be an oversimplification to state that dirt or the lack of cleanliness are responsible for pimples and acne, inflammation occurs when the dead skin cells combine with dirt and bacteria.
  • Medications – Intake of certain medications may trigger an acne outbreak or may aggravate existing acne.
  • Cosmetics – Some products meant for skin care and cosmetic purposes can lead to clogging of the pores. If you are prone to acne, opt for water based products.
  • Individuals who wear helmets, collars or chin straps may experience a worsening of acne.
  • Individuals in jobs that require them to handle industrial products may be more susceptible to acne.
  • Contrary to popular belief eating oily and fatty foods is not a cause for acne or pimples. Your diet is important however as it provides you with nutrients that are vital not just for your general health, but for the health of your skin as well. Indigestion has been suggested as possible cause or aggravator of acne because it makes the immune system weaker. Evidence also suggests that high glycemic load diets may exacerbate acne.
  • Remedies for Pimples

    In most cases pimples can be treated quite effectively with over the counter creams and ointments that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Treatment needs to be sustained for weeks however for it to be effective. If your pimples are severe or do not respond to treatment you may need to consult with a dermatologist.

    Apart from prescription and over-the-counter medications and topical applications, there are also many home remedies for pimples. Most home remedies are unfortunately not very reliable as they are not subjected to rigorous testing. They can vary greatly effectiveness and while some remedies may help in a few cases they could have no benefits in others. There are also some remedies that have been supported by studies, which is why it’s important that you always verify the efficacy of a remedy before trying one out. Some of the popular natural treatments for acne include:

    • Lemon juice is anti-bacterial in nature and hence an ideal treatment for pimples. You can combine equal parts of lemon juice and rose water and apply to the affected areas. Repeat this treatment for a period of three to four weeks until the pimples disappear. Several studies suggest that lemon juice can inhibit the growth of certain bacteria.
    • Cucumber pulp when applied to pimples helps to soothe irritation and reduces redness and swelling.
    • Aloe vera is a soothing remedy for skin that is inflamed and irritated due to acne. Extract the pulp from aloe vera leaves and apply to pimples.

    In addition to the above mentioned methods of treatment and home remedies it is also essential that you take certain basic steps to protect and care for your skin:

  • Keep your skin clean, but always make it a point to use cleansers that are mild. Natural products work best as there is less likelihood of them containing harsh chemicals that could further damage the skin. When cleansing, do not scrub the skin.
  • Do not attempt to burst or pick a pimple yourself, as this could result in severe scarring or in the formation of dark spots on the skin.
  • Avoid direct exposure to sunlight for any prolonged period as many medications used to treat acne increase susceptibility to sunburn.
  • When using cosmetics look for oil free varieties, generally described in labeling as “noncomedogenic”.
  • Diet for Pimples

    The foods to control pimples are those which are also beneficial for the overall health of the body.

    • Include plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds in the diet.
    • Consume foods which contain vitamin A such as carrots, spinach, egg yolk, sweet potatoes, liver and mangoes.
    • Also incorporate foods high in the mineral zinc such as dairy products, beans, whole wheat, yogurt and pumpkin seeds.
    • Sunflower, corn and safflower oil are known to help in treating pimples.
    • Drink a lot of water and fresh fruit and vegetable juices in order to keep the body hydrated and to eliminate toxins from the body. A good intake of water on a daily basis is extremely beneficial for good health of the skin.
    • Research has shown that intake of oily and fried foods do not directly cause acne. However they may interfere in the proper healing of pimples. Therefore avoid eating too much of junk foods and foods rich in fats sugar and oil.

    Suggestion for Pimples

    In severe cases where scarring is also a problem, you could seek treatment with laser procedures, chemical skin peeling or dermabrasion, depending on the advice and recommendations of your health care provider.


    1. Ismail, N., Manaf, Z., Azizan, N., 2012. High glycemic load diet, milk and ice cream consumption are related to acne vulgaris in Malaysian young adults: a case control study. BMC Dermatology 12, 13.
    2. Gollnick H, Cunliffe W, Berson D, et al. Management of acne: a report from a global alliance to improve outcomes in acne. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003;49(1 Suppl):S1–S37.
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