what is acne or pimple

What is Acne? Its Causes, Types, Symptoms, and Treatments

Healthy skin is a reflection of overall wellness. – Dr. Murad

Do you feel miserable because of those untimely popped up Pimples? Are you looking for medical treatments or home remedies? Are you someone with an acne prone skin? Does your skin breakout often? Stop! “What is Acne? And why is it bothering you?

Have you got sick of trying almost everything on those pimples to make your skin look normal again? Well, if your answer to any of these questions is a yes, then keep on reading. Before you look out for medical treatments and home remedies, it’s important for you to understand what acne is? How does a pimple occur?

And more in order to treat them from the root. So, today I am going to help you know everything you need to know about Acne.

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What is Acne?

Our skin has small pores which act as windows for our skin. If these windows are not properly washed or cleaned, they often collect sebum, dirt, and impurities, which result in forming bumps known as acne. It’s also called acne vulgaris. This small gist can cause loss of self-esteem, anxiety, and for some, even can produce fatal thoughts.

Its most common forms are pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, oily layer, and even scarring. It can be due to Genetics but only in 80% circumstances, rest depends upon the healthy diet, high intake of water, proper exercise, less or no use of chemicals, and investing into a good lifestyle.

Acne Symptoms:

We have experienced it many times in its different forms. Let’s simplify its recognition:

  • Small yellowish or black bumps, which are not accumulated due to dirt, but are colored due to the pigmentation, of the inner lining of the hair follicle, often known as Blackheads.
  • Somewhat resembles blackheads, are firmer and doesn’t get empty when squeezed, known as Whiteheads.
  • Red colored bumps which are small in size that are tender or sore in nature, are often called Papules.
  • Similar in appearance with papules, but are differentiated by the presence of pus, having a center of a wheatish tip, often called as Pustules.
  • Are present beneath the surface of the skin in form of hard lumps, which are really painful to bear, often called Nodules.
  • The highest risk of causing scarring, associated as the most severe type, in the spot form, are intensely pus formed lumps, similar to boils, often called as Cysts/Cystic acne.

What Causes Acne?

Finally, we are about to know how this little bump, which causes so much trouble arises. Listings are:

Acne is mainly caused due to these 4 Factors:

  1. Excess of oil on and in the skin.
  2. Dead skin cells and the oily hair follicles.
  3. Excess participation of hormones like androgens.
  4. Build up of bacteria.

Factors Responsible To Worsen the Acne condition:

Certain medications: These can activate heat in the body, resulting in an imbalance of chakras, which ultimately increases the acne on the skin. For example, drugs which contain lithium, testosterone, corticosteroids, etc.

Lack of proper sleep: Lack of sleep and overdose of stress can result in worsening of acne, as it stimulates the internal functioning upside down, making the symptoms highlight.

High intake of Chocolates: Any form of sugar or chocolates are not highly recommended, as per a survey it has been noticed as a depleting component of acne. The sugar present in it leads to bacteria build up and if it’s dark chocolate, high intake results in lack of sleep.

Diet: Proper diet is a must. It helps in proper functioning of hormones and also regulates the needed enzymes, into the blood, causing the clearance of the acne. If not, taken care it worsens the condition, because of the imbalance of hormones like androgens, which cause enlargement of the sebaceous glands which further create much sebum.

If androgen level is low, then also the condition worsens. Oral contraceptives are also responsible for worsening your acne.

Other Acne related Myths:

Oily or Fried Food: We always associate oily food with acne, but, we always forget about the eating environment. Oily food isn’t dangerous, the culprit here is the only atmosphere in your kitchen, which makes oil stick on to your skin. Indian cuisine has been known for its oil and spices.

Our ancestors are always seen drooling into tubs of oils, yet maintaining that healthy skin. It’s just because due to our busy schedules we forget ventilating our cooking area, which with time mixes oil droplets with the air, causing these bumps on the skin.

Poor Hygiene: Maintenance of proper hygiene is important but too much cleansing or scrubbing, can remove the layer natural oils of skin, leaving it dry and prone to acne.

Cosmetics: These are not so responsible for causing acne. It only happens if you are allergic to any product. These can also be responsible if you do not remove your makeup while going to sleep. It’s treatable, unlike others. But if you use cosmetics while having acne, just be sure it’s oil-free, or the irritation can be continued.

Other Risk Factors and harmful agents for Acne:

Age: Although acne can be experienced at any point, but is seen to be most common in teenagers. As the puberty starts, hormones are initiated high and low, which causes acne. If not treated delicately, it can even worsen.

Stress: Try being calm as if you have acne already, stress can worsen it. As such stress, won’t cause acne.

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Greasy environments or workplaces, use of oily stuff, for example, creams and lotions, can clog the pores, making the condition worse.

The friction of certain things: High use of cell phones, helmets, cleansers, scrubbers, and tight collars, can build up pressure onto the skin, producing friction, making the condition even worse and also converting it into an acne-prone skin.

Types of Acne:

Having breakouts is often heard in our ears, but the word used isn’t correct always. Being the most common skin ailment, acne can be categorized further, leaving us with much knowledge.

It’s categorized into two divisions:

1) Non-inflammatory type of Acne

2) Inflammatory type of Acne

These two further divided into its forms. Now, let’s study about them:

Non-inflammatory Type of Acne:

Non-inflammatory type of Acne is mostly associated with blackheads and whiteheads.

Blackheads are also known as open comedones, which occur on the clogging of the pores, by the excessive sebum and the dead skin cells, leaving the inside clogged while the outside remains open, resulting in discoloration and appears to be black.

Whiteheads are also known as closed comedones, which occur on the clogging of pores, with sebum and dead skin layers, except the pore opening. In this, it remains close and protrudes from the skin, in small bumps. These tend to heal with difficulty as the pores are already closed. Products with salicylic acid can be a boon to you.

Inflammatory Type of Acne:

Inflammatory type of Acne is mostly associated with papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts.

Papules, mostly occur by the breaking of your wall, present around pores, due to inflammation. It appears to be pink, is tender on touching, otherwise is hard and clogged.

Pustules, are mostly red in color, having yellow and white on the tip. They are completely filled with pus.

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Nodules are mostly deep down in your skin layers. The bump if further irritated leads to its enlargement. This type cannot be treated at home, so it’s better to consult your dermatologist.

Cysts or Cystic Acne is red or white in color. They occur due to the dead skin layer, full of impurities, sebum, and bacteria. It’s the largest and most severe form of ac and is often really painful. In some cases, it can have a surgical removal. Visit your dermatologist, without delay.

What is Back Acne? It’s Causes and it’s Prevention?

Acne is mostly found on the face, neck, chest, and back. It can be treated, still, the maximum population of every age suffers from this. You must treat it or else it can leave permanent scars on healing.

Back Acne can be in any form, like blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, high oily layer with red bumps, and also scarring. This oil layer is sensitive to certain kind of hormones. If the hormones are not desired to regulate, this can cause the acne to inflame, more.

Treatments for Back Acne and Prevention:

This has many treatments to it, it can be healed through medications or even topical healing process can be followed. Try to heal it when you experience the mild form, or else scarring is possible.

The below listings can act as a doctor for mild acne and first aid for the severe ones. Consulting a dermatologist is necessary, in such cases.

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Topical creams, having salicylic acid in its composition, are the best treatment for the mild acne and can be first aid for the severe ones. It helps to clear your back completely in 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the condition and growth of the acne. These must be applied, after cleaning with a washcloth, two times a day. Wipeout sweat after any outdoor activities like gym, walking, or running.

Pills: It is the second easiest method, recommended by the dermatologists. These are often prescribed to heal severe acne such as nodules and cysts. These pills can be antibiotics, which help to kill the build up bacteria and also reduces inflammation, for better results, you need to have it for 2 months.

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Contraceptive pills are also helpful as they highly impact hormones functioning. It takes up to 2 to 4 months, for recovery, by controlling the level of oil on the skin. High intake of this can lead to other problems as well if consumed by the teenagers. With its regular use for a long time, can also affect ovulation. Always refer to a dermatologist and also a gynecologist, before trying any such pills.

Isotretinoin: The most powerful medication is Isotretinoin which helps you to recover up to 2 months, after treatment. Being best with having side effects is its quality. It can harm the unborn child, i.e. not suitable for pregnant ladies, or if you wish of having a baby. Doctors monitor their patients regularly, consuming this. Other side effects noticed are dry lips, depression, suicidal thoughts, joint pains, and decreased lubrication in between of joints.

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Skin Procedures or Light therapies such as lasers, can help reduce the levels of a pimple or acne on the skin. This isn’t so promising as dermatologists often recommend chemical peel to treat papules or blackheads. Drainage and extractions are often recommended, for removal of cysts, helping out ease pain, while the scars can be left behind.

You can also prevent the back acne, by bathing every day, cleaning the sweat, no scrubbing, popping, squeezing in the affected areas. Be gentle and care for your skin.

When You Should Consult a Doctor?

In case of mild acne or pimples, one must first prefer home remedies, but if the condition persists, immediately go to the doctor.

Whereas, in case of severe acne or pimples, one must directly visit a dermatologist, from making it even worse.

Emergency medical help must be provided if any medication or cream, leads to side-effects such as breathing seems difficult, swelling in the face, throat seeming tight or even feeling drowsy. 

How to Get Rid of Acne? (Acne or Pimple treatment):

There are many treatments one can opt for, besides the home remedies. Those are as follows:

1) Topical Medications:

RETINOIDS: Drugs having Retinoids or pure form of Retinoids, as they have Vitamin A with quantities of tretinoin, tazarotene, and adapalene. They are present in form of creams, lotions, and gels. It’s usually recommended to use three times a week, at evening, but as your skin gets used to it, you can use it daily. It prevents plugging of the hair follicles.

ANTIBIOTICS: Antibiotics, in any form, is always known for killing the disease-causing germs and bacteria. This can produce the best results when in a cream form, is used with a Retinoid. Usually, antibiotics are for morning and retinoids for the evening.

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Antibiotics can be consumed or applied by themselves, but retinoids are never lonely prescribed. For the avoidance of antibiotic resistance, benzoyl peroxide is combined and then used.

SALICYLIC ACID: Salicylic Acid, helps prevent plugging hair follicles. It is present in two forms, the first one is as a wash-off and the second one is as a leave-on product. The studies which show its success is limited.

AZELAIC ACID: Whereas azelaic acid, on another side, is found in animal products and whole grain cereals. It occurs naturally, having antibacterial properties. It is very effective and can call off many other acne treatments. Using just a minimal amount as only as 20%, twice a day for 4 weeks, makes the results visible.

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It has side-effects like skin minor irritation and it’s discoloration. It isn’t recommended for breastfeeding mothers and also during pregnancy.

DAPSONES: Dapsones like Aczone, if used 5% twice daily, can see visible results in the inflammatory acne, often seen in adult females. It can have side-effects like dryness and redness.

2) Oral Medications:

ANTIBIOTICS: Now let’s discuss the pill form of antibiotic. These are used for the shortest time as if exploited can even cause antibiotic resistance. It is mostly used to kill the bacteria or germs, mixed in blood, by fighting inflammation. Its side-effects include sensitive skin to the sun, dizziness and an upset stomach.

As per studies, it is always recommended to use antibiotics along with topical benzoyl peroxide, for better and resistance free results.

ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES: Combined form of oral contraceptives, containing both estrogen and progestin. There are total four contraceptives consented by FDA, for the acne treatment. Its side-effects include a high risk of blood clots, breast tenderness, nausea, and weight gain. The results can take time may be up to a few months, but if combined with other treatments can gain you better results.

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ANTI-ANDROGEN AGENTS: If oral antibiotics are not fruitful, young girls and women can opt for anti-androgen agents. Most common is Aldactone, having spironolactone, which blocks the androgen hormones affecting the sebaceous glands. The side-effects for this are painful periods with excessive cramps and breast tenderness.

ISOTRETINOIN: It’s a drug which is the elixir to patients having severe acne, known as Isotretinoin. It is always considered as a final or last step of acne treatment, because of its heavy side-effects. The side-effects include are a high increase in depressive and suicidal thoughts, ulcerative colitis, and severe birth defects if consumed by the pregnant lady.

If one needs to calm these side-effects a little, they must get enrolled in an approved risk management program offered under the Food and Drug Administration.

3) Other Therapies:

Light-based therapies like Lasers and Photodynamic Therapies. These obtain results but are not advised so much, due to its harmful radiations. Still, a bright future is being predicted in this by determining it’s the ideal method, dose and light source.

Chemical Peels are another therapy recommended by dermatologists. It is a repeated process so the patient may receive repeated treatments. It uses a chemical solution such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid or retinoic acid.

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Extracting of Whiteheads and Blackheads is the most favorite among the patients and the doctors. Special tools are used to extract them. It can lead to scarring.

Steroid Injections are used to remove nodules and cysts, by their direct insertion. This has rapid results with less decreased pain. Thinning of the area is its side-effect which is mostly noticed.

How to Get Rid of Pimples Naturally? (Home Remedies for Acne):

After knowing all about acne, it’s symptoms, it’s types, its causes, and also it’s treatments, now it’s time to explore our kitchen and our 100 years old Ayurveda.

  • APPLE CIDER VINEGAR (ACV) is mostly seen everywhere, now. Use it as your pimple treatment, it not only kills the bacteria but also stops itching. Mix 1 part of it in 5 parts of water, use a cotton ball and apply it on the affected area. If it feels uneasy more than a minute, wash it off with cold water and pat dry.
  • Cook yourself in ZINC utensils, or have its supplements. It helps in the growth of a cell, improving metabolism, proper immune functioning, and proper regulation of hormones. It is really important for girls and women, as they experience a menstrual cycle.
  • Apply the king of kitchen mixed with CINNAMON and HONEY. Turmeric not only heals your skin but also helps it fight bacteria. Apply a mask of turmeric, honey, and cinnamon, where honey is 2 tablespoons whereas the other two are 2 pinch of each. First clean your face, then apply it, leaving on for 20 minutes, and wash with cold water. Dry the skin properly.
  • Now, let’s indulge with the purest form of essential oil that acts as the elixir to all skin problems, the TEA TREE OIL. Mix 2 drops of this essential oil into 1/2 cup of distilled water, and use it as a spot treatment or as a cleanser. You will notice the results in 12 hours.
  • GREEN TEA not only calms your nerves but also is great for your skin. You can apply Plum collection for quality skin. You can also use it as a toner, cleanser or even as a cream. Just boil the most organic version of green tea, after cooling down apply the tea bags on to your face, leaving it relaxed with fast blood circulation, overall.

What Foods to Eat to Reduce Acne?

More goodness you consume, more health would be granted to you. Our ancestors must be the best examples, for us as, of their eating habits goodness resembled in their happy living. If you eat right, you will be happy from the inside. Love the nature as it’s filled with lots of love, and nutrition, required for us to nurture.

  • COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES: Try including complex carbohydrates into your diet as it reduces the possibility of developing acne. It includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
  • You can also consume Antioxidants, Zinc and Vitamin A with E. You can easily get them from dry fruits, nuts, leafy greens, and fresh seasonal fruits.
  • BERRIES: Include Berries like blueberry, cranberry and goji berry. You can also include orange and yellow fruits, full of vitamins. Include dark colored veggies, like spinach, lettuce, and other green leaves.
  • Try including Quinoa, Flaxseeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Chia Seeds into your diet. Consume coconut milk as it keeps you hydrated. Drink lots ‘n’ lots of water. Use whole wheat bread, brown rice, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, peas, and lentils, on regular basis.
  • OMEGA-3: For omega 3 you can have Yoghurt, flaxseeds for vegetarians, and salmon or any other fatty fish for non-vegetarians. Also, remember to have good fat and cut down on the bad fat. Good fat includes ghee, butter whereas bad fat includes trans fat.

Laser Treatment for Acne:

A treatment which makes fewer happy and more unhappy. This is because some fear the Laser treatment for acne and some enjoy its results. Laser treatment for acne could be painless for some and painful for many. But, the truth is even scarier as it doesn’t provide a guarantee of the fulfillment of results.

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The best dermatologist can also not approve its thorough results. Still, it can prove effective for the plan evolving acne treatment.

Expectations from the Laser Treatment for Acne:

  • People just are too admired by the myth that it clears all acne, in one go. But it isn’t true. Many times, doctors recommend you on other treatments or keep you on medications.
  • Different skin produces different effects. It can suit me and not you. Always do a patch test and it will reflect the sensitivity of your skin and also makes you sure that you can take the process further.
  • For satisfying results, you may need to set the series of treatment. Laser in one go will not heal your entire severe acne. Even for mild ones, 2-3 sittings are needed.
  • It will take time for the visible results. You won’t notice the results sooner, for some it can even take more than 4 sittings and for some even a month. It solely depends upon the severity of your acne.
  • Follow-up treatments are necessary. If you miss more than two, you can face the build-up of acne even faster, so try following up rather than increasing your length of treatment.
  • Lasers and other light treatments carry a bunch of side-effects along. The light used is high in rays, which can cause redness, burns, lingering pain, changing of the skin color and also scarring. So, try consulting the board-certified dermatologist, for better results with fewer side-effects.
  • Maintenance of good skincare and proper following up with the dermatologist instructions, can make your skin healthier and deliver the best results possible.

Lasers are getting more advanced and more in use, nowadays. It’s been promising a bright future in the field with minimal side effects if used cautiously.

Types of Lasers:

  • Blue+ red devices are useful in treating pimples and not useful for blackheads, whiteheads, nodules, and cysts.
  • Devices used at home, are approved by the US FDA has certain visible light LED devices, which are blue, red in color. These are very light and can only treat pimples. Their visible effect can take a lot of time, maybe days or months. One needs to have patience with it. If you need early results in 4 weeks you must use it twice daily, then you will notice a slight change.
  • Infrared, the most dangerous light which has a lot of side-effects attached. It is useful in treating acne and can also treat the back acne.
  • PDT often spelled as photodynamic therapy, makes the skin more sensitive. It’s in a form of a solution which must sit for 15 minutes to 3 hours. After this, the dermatologist uses laser treatment to treat the skin effectively. It is very promising in healing severe acne. It results in last long, maybe for years.
  • PPT often spelled as photopneumatic therapy, combines IPL (intense pulsed light) laser with a vacuum that is gentle. PPT helps in treating blackheads, whiteheads, and some other pimples. It is FDA approved. Hence, it helps in removing the dead skin cells and excess oil, from the clogged pores, but still is not suitable for nodules and cysts.

Final words:

Remember to love yourself, always. Your body interior describes your outer appearance, the most. Eat food that us healthier and make sure to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. So, maintain healthy and glowing skin with a healthy lifestyle and drink loads of water regularly in order to flush out all the toxins.

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Skin Tip: In severe Acne issues, don’t try anything by yourself at home. Consult a registered and trustworthy dermatologist or a doctor. So, get your skin analyzed and opt for a treatment that will provide you with the best results in the long run.

Note: Also, I am not an expert or specialist. I am just spreading awareness through whatever I share on my blog. Thank you!

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Feature Image Illustration Credit: Dee Mahto

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