Acne is one of the most common skin problems affecting millions of people across the U.S. It occurs when a group of pimples, blemishes or zits crop up on your skin. Zits appear on the skin mainly because of an infection or an inflammation in the sebaceous glands. At times you may notice a single bump or zit, bit in most cases, zits appear in a group or in clusters. You may experience an outbreak of zits as a one off. However, several people suffer from acne on a regular basis. In case of a chronic acne problem, you are likely to see new acne lesions crop up on your skin, even before the old ones heal completely and disappear. This could be quite frustrating for anyone.

Studies indicate that zits are a lot more common in teenagers and young adults, as compared to most others. In most cases, acne and zits are not a serious problem as they never really cause any complications. However, zits could cause you a lot of embarrassment and can also lead to a decline in self-confidence. Acne and blemishes not only leave their mark on your skin; they also do a lot of damage to your self-image. Fortunately, it is possible to deal with zits and get them treated, so that they disappear, without leaving any marks or scars. Moreover, there are many ways in which zits can be prevented. You can do so, by making a few simple dietary or lifestyle changes and by following a skincare routine.

Symptoms of Zits

Zits mainly occur in those parts of the body, where the number of functional sweat glands, are higher. This usually includes your neck, back, chest and shoulders. Moreover, acne can occur in many different forms, some of which include:

  • Comedones: Comedones, or blackheads occur on the skin, when your hair follicle opening gets blocked with oil, bacteria or dead skin. In case these comedones are darker in appearance, because they remain open, they are known as blackheads. At times, the comedones have a slightly raised, skin-colored appearance; these are known as white heads.
  • Pustules: In case your zit takes on the form of a red, tender bump with white pus at its tip, you have a pustule on your skin.
  • Cysts: This can be described as a painful lump, usually filled with pus, which appears beneath the surface of the skin. A cyst is a boil-like infection on the skin that can lead to scars. At times recurrent cysts could be an indication of a serious medical problem and so it is important to get them checked by a doctor.
  • Papules: A papule is a small raised bump that is reddish in color and tender to the touch. The appearance of these bumps is usually a sign of an infection or inflammation on the affected area of the skin.
  • Nodules: These zits are like large, painful and solid bumps that form beneath the surface of your skin. The buildup of secretions within the hair follicles usually leads to nodules.

When you suffer from a zit problem, you are likely to see an eruption of reddish or pinkish looking bumps on your skin. The centers of these bumps are generally whitish or yellowish in color. Given below are some of the common signs of acne:

  • Zits that Expand in Size: In case the bacteria clogging the pores increase in numbers, the zits may grow bigger. This happens because your body tries to fight off the bacteria and creates an additional amount of pus, which causes the lesion to swell.
  • Increase in Temperature at the Affected Area of Skin: The area that is covered with zits feels hot to the touch as the immune system tries to fight off the bacteria inside the pimples.
  • Changes in the Color and Texture of the Skin: The affected part of the skin usually appears reddish or pinkish in color. In case the zits have been picked at or burst at any time, these areas may also have acne scars or depressions. Skin that is affected by chronic acne problems usually turns a bit rough after a while. Chronic zit-affected skin usually takes on a shiny and greasy appearance.

Causes of Zits

Most people believe that zits pop up because of lack of hygienic measures, which is why they are such a major source of embarrassment to most of us. This is true to some extent, as lack of a skincare routine can aggravate acne problems, especially if there is any dirt on the skin that mixes with the oil produced by your sebaceous glands. This causes the pores of your skin to get blocked, making them the ideal breeding ground for bacteria. However, many individuals have been known to suffer from acne despite their high levels of personal hygiene. There are several other factors that could lead to the formation of zits, such as:

  • Hormonal imbalances, especially prevalent in teenagers usually lead to overactive sebaceous glands. This could be why teens end up getting zits in spite of washing their face several times a day.
  • Many women go to bed without getting rid of their makeup. While makeup is not dirt, it can clog the pores or the skin making it possible for bacteria to multiply and cause lesions.
  • The irregular or improper shedding of dead skin is one of the most common causes of zits on the face or other parts of the body. Therefore, even after washing your face many times a day, you may have pimple problems. You could avoid this problem by exfoliating your skin regularly. However, scrubbing the skin too hard does not help the problem in any way; in fact, it worsens acne to a great extent.

It is also believed that a poor diet is one of the main causes of pimples. Many people claim that greasy food, starchy food items and chocolates have an adverse effect on your digestive system and increase the production of oil on the skin, consequently causing acne. However, the exact effects of dietary factors on zits are still being studied.

Remedies for Zits

Many individuals consult skin specialists for acne treatment, since the problem can be a very embarrassing one. In addition to conventional treatments however, it is possible to treat or control acne, using simple home remedies and by making a few dietary and lifestyle adjustments. Given below are some of the most common home remedies for zits that you can try as an alternative or complimentary treatment:

  • Ice: This remedy is excellent for reducing acne, caused by infections or inflamed skin. Apply a few cubes of ice directly on the zit-affected skin for a few minutes, around 3 or 4 times a day. Ice can also prevent the inflammation and zits from spreading to other areas.
  • Aloe Vera: Apply some fresh Aloe Vera gel on to the affected skin at night, and leave it on for a while, before washing it off. Although Aloe Vera gel is available at most health stores, it is best to extract fresh gel from an Aloe leaf and apply it directly on the face.
  • Steam: Hot steam has an excellent effect on the skin and can kill the bacteria present in the pores. In a large and clean pot, boil some fresh water, for around 15 to 20 minutes. Allow the water to cool for about 5 to 10 minutes, before bending your face over the pot. Cover your head with a thick towel, so that the steam is trapped within and does not escape. Allow the steam from the pot to treat the acne for as long as is bearable. Carry on the exercise for at least 5 minutes or preferably more.
  • Yogurt and Oatmeal: Prepare a mixture by adding some plain oatmeal to some unflavored yogurt to make a thick paste. Apply the paste to the affected part of the skin and leave it on to dry. Then, rinse the skin with some cool water and pat it dry.

Make sure that you do not touch the acne-affected skin excessively, as it will cause the zits to spread to other parts of the skin. Picking on the zits, popping them or bursting them can lead to permanent scars on the skin too and therefore, they should be strictly avoided.

Diet for Zits

Several people believe that a diet can help treat zits and can prevent new lesions from cropping up. While, the exact role of a diet in the treatment and prevention of zits is still not clear, a nutritious diet can help improve your overall health. There are certain foods that are believed to aggravate the breakout of zits and therefore, they should be strictly avoided. Given below are some foods that should be strictly avoided in a diet for zits:

  • Processed food like bagels, muffins, bread and pasta
  • Junk food like burgers, pizzas, French fries and chips
  • Fast foods that are high in saturated fats
  • Sugar and other sweet foods, like chocolate, cookies, puddings and so on
  • Oily and greasy foods like butter, mayonnaise and sandwich spreads
  • Alcohol and caffeinated beverages

At the same time, it is believed that healthy and nutritious foods can help reduce the risks of acne formation. Given below are some of the foods that are recommended in a diet for zits:

  • Whole wheat and whole grain products like brown rice, multigrain bread and wheat pasta
  • Natural sources of protein, such as lean meat, beans, legumes and nuts
  • Foods high in Vitamin C and Vitamin A, like citrus fruits, spinach, carrots and broccoli.
  • Liquids that flush out the toxins from the body, especially water and fresh fruit or vegetable juice, without any sugar or preservatives.

Suggestion for Zits

The treatment and prevention of acne is a long-term endeavor and therefore, if you cease your efforts soon after the outbreak of acne clears up, you could see a relapse. This is why it is best for you to make lifestyle changes that you can follow on a lifelong basis, to deal with acne problems. For best results, you should work with a skin specialist or a health care provider. Given below are a few suggestions that can help you prevent the zits from cropping up:

  • Get an adequate amount of sleep and rest during the day, to maintain hormonal levels
  • Follow an exercise routine, as this increases the flow of blood and oxygen to your skin, keeping it healthier
  • Take a shower after you exercise or engage in any activity that has caused you to perspire
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing, made from cool and comfortable fabrics like cotton. Avoid wearing clothes that are too tight
  • Do not wear makeup that is not from a trusted brand and make sure that you remove your makeup before you go to sleep.

In case the zits are prevalent in spite of using these remedies and taking preventative steps, it would be best to consult a skin specialist at the earliest.

Zits Treatments - more information