Why we get pimples
Pimples develop when the openings of hair follicles become clogged and blocked with oil and dead skin cells. If that clogged pore becomes infected with bacteria, it can form a pimple, which is a small red bump with pus at its tip. Acne most frequently occurs around puberty – this is due to changes in hormones which can affect the oil (sebaceous) glands – however, it can develop at any age.
Types of pimples
Acne can range from blackheads and whiteheads (comedones) to papules (red spots) and pustules (red, pus-filled spots), to nodules and cysts (painful, pus-filled lesions that look like a bump under the skin).
Where do we get pimples
Pimples can develop anywhere where there are plentiful sebaceous glands. Typically this is on the face, neck, chest, upper back and shoulders.
Why you shouldn’t pop your pimples
Whilst a big, juicy pimple staring back at you in the mirror is tempting to pick and squeeze, this is one of the worst things you could be doing for your skin. Popping pimples can result in:
- Permanent acne scars
- More noticeable acne
- More painful acne
- An infection
When you pop pimples at home, you can push some of the contents inside the pimple deeper into the skin, resulting in inflammation and therefore, more noticeable acne. Some people can also develop acne scars and pain. Infection is a possibility through transfer of bacteria from your hands to your face.
What to do instead of popping your pimples
Acne will usually clear with treatment and correct skincare. Instead of picking your pimples try the following:
- Keep your hands away from your face – touching, picking and popping can worsen acne
- Relieve pain with ice – some acne can be painful, especially nodules and cysts. Applying ice will reduce the inflammation in these spots.
- Use a hydrocolloid dressing – these work by creating a protective seal over the skin while absorbing excess fluid, such as oil and pus, resulting in spots flattening faster and reducing inflammation and skin redness.
Treat your acne – many people can clear or at least reduce their acne with appropriate treatment. Keep in mind, this takes patience and commitment. Most treatments will not start to kick in until it has been used appropriately for a minimum of 6-8 weeks. Treatment creams and serums should be applied to the whole face but spot treatments can be used to individual, more inflamed spots twice per day.
If your acne is not clearing despite the above, you should see your GP or dermatologist.