My usual approach to a discussion on Pimples (medically termed Acne vulgaris) is that having pimples is an universal experience, most people had it at one time in life. As a matter of fact, it is one of the commonest signs of ‘growing up’.
In the the same vein, some women, having pimples is a monthly event; “crops” of pimples is a sign that the menses is fast approaching or that she is “on” her menses.
Pimples occur when the oil-secreting glands in the skin are clogged and become inflamed or infected. Ninety percent of teenagers get acne, although this can still persist into the middle age, particularly in women during their reproductive years.
Pimples are caused by inflammation or infection of the oil glands in the skin and at the base of hairs called the sebaceous glands. In the teenage years, hormones stimulate the growth of body hair, and the oil glands secrete more oil. The skin pores, through which nourishing oil passes to the body hairs, become clogged and bacteria grow in the clogged pores.
Such that as the body defense mechanism works to kill the bacteria, whiteheads, blackheads, and pustules form in these areas.
Whiteheads: these are closed plugged oil glands in the skin at the root of the body hairs.
Blackheads: these are open plugged oil glands (the oil turns black when it’s exposed to the air).
Pustules: these are red, inflamed, infected plugged oil glands, sometimes filled with pus. Pustules could turn out to be complications of futile effort at pressing out the content of a pimple.
• Some pimples may be painful. In severe cases, cysts (large fluid-filled bumps) may develop under the skin.
Usually, this is often self-evidenced in that a skin elevation can be seen or felt, which could come in the various forms outlined above. However, a professional guide by a doctor or better still a specialist dermatologist is better encouraged.
The health care provider will check the skin to assess the existing problem (such as whiteheads, blackheads. pustules or cysts). The provider will look to see where the problems are located, for example, the face or back.
It is also important for the provider to want to know how long the problem has been on, or if there is a cyclical nature to it occurrence as it might be the case in menstruating ladies.
In the same vein, the doctor will also certainly be interested in what treatment methods have been previously applied.
Treatment is aimed at keeping oil and dirt out of the pores and reducing inflammation. The knowledge of how one has been taking care of the pimples is important here, in order to know how to advance the treatment.
On a conservative approach, what is required is a simple soft toilet soap that will keep the body less oily and hence, discourage the plugging of the skin pore by excess oil.
The best approach is, when having ones bath, to allow the lather of the soap to remain on the skin for some time, say for five to ten minutes, before rinsing off with water. This is to allow sufficient time for the soap to penetrate the skin pores and to dissolve out the potential plugging oil substance in the pores.
Meanwhile, several products are available to help prevent pimples or blackheads.
Treatment usually begins with putting products containing “benzoyl peroxide” on the areas of skin with acne.
If benzoyl peroxide alone is not effective, then one may also need to put antibiotic medications on the skin, as contained in some medicated soap. In some situation of stubborn pimples, the health care provider may prescribe antibiotics to be taken by mouth. Usually, for good result this medication may have to be taken for several weeks.
Similarly, an affected individual may also need to use a special skin cream or gel containing tretinoin (Retin-A).
In some instance, the health care provider may have to inject large cysts with special medication so that there will be better resolution and less scarring.
As mentioned above, new whiteheads usually stop appearing after 4 to 6 weeks of treatment, but one may probably need to continue the treatment for several months.
If an affected person is taking antibiotics, at some point the doctor will ask the person to stop taking them to see if they are still needed. Sometimes acne treatment must be continued for several years.
Factors that Worsens Acne
Many factors may worsen acne temporarily. For example, women may notice that their acne gets worse before each menstrual period. So even with proper treatment, results may vary over time. It is, however, important to try to discover and change, when possible, the factors in ones environment or lifestyle that make the pimples worse.
Tips for Helping out the Pimples
In addition to following the full treatment prescribed by the health care provider, the tips below might also assist with helping out the pimples:
Wash the face 2 times a day with a gentle soap.
Change your washcloth every day (bacteria can grow on damp cloth).
Have your bath as soon as possible after exercise or a sweaty physical activity.
Wash the hands more frequently and avoid touching your face unnecessarily.
Don’t squeeze, pick, scratch, or rub your skin. Scars may form if you squeeze pimples.
Don’t rest your face on your hands while you read, study, or watch TV.
Any Food to Avoid?
Although researchers have not been able to show that any foods cause acne, some people have found that certain foods seem to worsen their acne.
The idea here is to keep a record of the foods an affected person eats and see if the food appears to make the pimples worse. And subsequently avoid these foods.
For those with fragile skin to sun as in whites and albinos, they should try not to get sunburned.
Avoid extreme stress if possible. Practice stress reduction strategies such as exercise, meditation and counseling if stress is extreme.
It is important to keep follow-up appointments with the health care provider. Keep a record of the treatments received and tried and also how they have worked or otherwise.
Even if the ongoing treatment protocol fails, don’t get depressed or give up easily, knowing that there are many other treatment options.