Healthy Living

What Are Pimples: Causes and How to Get Rid of Them

Pimples: Causes and How to Get Rid of Them

What are pimples?

Pimples, also known as "spots", "acne", or "zits", are inflammation of the skin or small skin lesions that are caused when excessive oil in the skin gets trapped in the pores.

The oil glands of the skin get clogged and become infected. This clogging results in the formation of swollen, red lesions that are filled with pus. Pimples can also be caused by yeast infection. Most people experience pimples on their face, especially in oily areas such as the cheeks, chin, and forehead being most prone to it. However, when the problem is severe, a lot of people can also get pimples on their back, shoulders, and chest.

Sebaceous glands, also known as "oil glands", are located at the base of hair follicles, which secrete sebum to lubricate the human skin and hair. They are present all over the body except for the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The face and scalp have the most number of sebaceous glands. These glands become overactive when there is hormone deregulation in one’s body. Since hormonal changes happen mostly around puberty, pimples are highly associated with this particular stage of an individual’s life. Therefore, in most women, pimples appear around their menstruation cycle as they experience a lot of hormonal changes.

Doctors recommend treating pimples during their early stages because they can lead to severe acne and may also leave visible scars on the skin if left untreated for a long time.

What causes pimples?

The outer layer of our skin continuously sheds and the dead skin cells are replaced by the new ones. The oil glands or sebaceous glands, which exist beneath our skin, produce sebum that helps protect the layers of our skin by keeping it lubricated. However, when the skin is shedding its old layer, some of the dead skin cells get stuck to the sebum and are left behind. This cluster of dead skin cells and sebum block the pore of the skin, which gives bacteria a ground to grow. One of these bacteria is the slow-growing Propionibacterium acnes, which leads to acne formation. These bacteria, which are harmless, grow slowly and consume sebum for reproduction. However, during puberty, the sebaceous glands produce more sebum than normal, which helps the dry skin cells mix with sebum quickly, leading to the formation of this bacteria. Thus, bacteria will feed on the sebum and then rapidly reproduce, leading to the inflammation of the skin and formation of some spots. Pimples can also be caused by yeast infections, which can grow on the skin, forehead, and chest.

Puberty is considered as a major cause of acne because of hormonal changes. When individuals hit puberty, their body will have an increase in testosterone levels. As a result, the sebaceous glands are triggered to produce more sebum than normal. Such conditions lead to a rise in the number of clogged pores, resulting in acne.

How to get rid of pimples?

Depending on the type and the conditions that give rise to one’s pimples, they can both be treated with certain home remedies and medications. In the case of severe acne, it is highly recommended to consult a doctor. The following are some of the ways in which one can get rid of pimples:

  • Diet: Doctors usually recommend not to consume products that are rich in dairy content and glycemic index. These foods can trigger one's hormones and increase the chances of a breakout in a person. It is also recommended to keep your diet in check and set up nutritional levels. Doing this can give you a better understanding of what kinds of food can help get rid of acne.
  • Hygiene: Good hygiene helps people to easily and effectively get rid of pimples without the risk of having scars. People need to regularly wash their face, avoid popping the pimples, changing pillowcases every week, cleaning their phone, and not touching their faces to prevent the acne from spreading further and becoming troublesome.
  • Natural Remedies: Many home remedies can be effective in treating acne. You can put ice cubes in the inflamed area to quickly dry out the pimples. Many products we use in the kitchen such as honey, lemon juice, garlic, and baking soda can naturally help get rid of pimples. These natural remedies can also prevent scarring. A lot of essential oils such as the tea tree oil and argan oil can also help treat pimples and acne.


  • Over-the-counter Medications: Several over-the-counter medications may help you get rid of acne. Common creams and products containing benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are good to use for a pimple-prone skin. Antibacterial agents such as "triclosan" can also help treat pimples.
  • Prescription Medication: When acne is severe and needs to be medically treated, doctors usually recommend retinoid-based creams and gels for treatment. Usually, isotretinoin retinoid-based gels are recommended for topical applications to get rid of acne. However, if the acne grows even more severe, doctors recommend Accutane, which is one of the most potent retinoids used for acne and pimple treatments.

How to prevent pimples?

Pimples are very common during the teenage years and are difficult to avoid. However, a few lifestyle changes such as incorporating healthy foods into your diet and cutting down dairy products can help you prevent pimples or reduce their occurrence to a bare minimum. 

Stress is also one of the leading causes of pimples. Thus, you need to avoid or manage stress using various tactics as much as possible to prevent pimples. Maintaining a good hygiene is a very crucial step when it comes to handling pimples. Using dirty makeup brushes or touching your face time and again can lead to bacteria spreading on your face leading to pimples. You should also clean your phone and change your pillowcases time and again to maintain a clean environment and avoid a breakout.

There is a risk that you may push the infection further down, causing more serious blockage, and worse, swelling and redness. Popping pimples can also increase the risk of scarring. So, never pop a pimple! Instead, have specialists treat it for you since they exactly know how to deal with pimples and minimize any pre-existing skin damage. 

Key Takeaways

  • Pimples are a common skin condition that most people can have during their teenage years.
  • Pimples, also known as "spots", "acne", or "zits", are inflammation of the skin or small skin lesions that are caused when excessive oil in the skin gets trapped in the pores.
  • There are various types of home remedies that can help people to naturally get rid of acne or pimples.