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 face 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 get rid of pimples. But, before I jump to the remedies and prevention tips, there’s something you need to understand.
What Is It And What Are The Causes?
According to the dictionary, a pimple is an inflamed spot on your skin. But those who deal with it know that it’s something deeper. A pimple is a type of acne that can occur at any age and any time.
There are several factors responsible for it. And before you try to treat it, you need to understand what causes pimples or acne – because starting treatment without knowing what caused the condition is a shot in the dark.
What Causes Pimples?
Many factors can cause pimples or acne. These include:
This is the most common cause of acne or pimple breakouts. When your 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 that area causes acne or a pimple.
Sometimes, it’s in your genes. If there’s 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.
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.
Studies show that stress aggravates acne. Your 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 is linked to acne and vice versa. In cases where acne occurs first, it’s not uncommon for people to get depressed. And when you are depressed, acne is aggravated.
The relationship between smoking and acne is unclear. While clinical studies have found that smoking causes acne, there is still a lot of scope for research. Smoking often reduces the oxygen flow to the skin cells, disrupts hormonal balance, and slows down the healing process. Did I mention that it also causes aging and wrinkles? Quit this habit, and your skin will be grateful to you.
Although alcohol doesn’t cause acne, it certainly 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. This can aggravate acne and pimples.
Although it directly doesn’t cause acne, specific foods (such as processed and sugary foods) can make your condition worse while other food items (such as seafood and veggies) can make it better.
If hormonal issues triggered your pimples or acne, or if it is linked to your genes, a dermatologist can help you find the source(s) and then treat it. In case your 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 to get you started!
How To Prevent Acne And Pimples
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 for choosing the right skin care products for you. 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 drug stores 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 your acne.
6. Use Makeup Wisely
You might feel 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. So, no more squeezing, touching, and scratching 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. So, carry an umbrella and wear sunscreen if you are heading out.
9. Check Your Diet
What you eat reflects on your skin. So, be mindful of what you are putting on your plate. A review published in the American Academy of Dermatology suggests that certain food items can worsen acne. Foods with a high glycemic index, such as baked goodies, chips, soft drinks, and anything made with white flour can aggravate acne. It also found that in some cases, dairy products too triggered acne breakouts.
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 a pimple or acne breakout.
Along with controlling your lifestyle habits, you also need to religiously 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.