Pimple Meaning, Formation, Causes, Symptoms & Cures

What is a pimple? What are the reasons for their development? Who is prone to these small skin lesions, and what are their effects?

Well, go through this article to get full insight on the meaning, causes, deep ones, their symptoms and various types. We have also shed a spotlight on the top-rated treatments and prevention measures.

What is a pimple?

Pimples or what is known as spots or zits are skin lesions caused by a combination of physiological work taking place under the skin, which we actually don’t have the potential to control. The process starts about three weeks before you could see them on your skin. The process is initiated in your sebaceous hair follicles as summarized below:


  • The sebaceous normally produce sebum, an oil that is responsible for hydrating and smoothening your skin
  • While your new skin cells will be growing, the old cells will die and shed off. When the dead skin cells shed haphazardly, they will clump together with sebum (natural oil) to form a comedo or a plug in the hair follicles or pores
  • The comedo will then entrap the sebum and bacteria inside the follicle. This will make the follicle to swell as more sebaceous glands continue producing sebum
  • Your body immune system will respond to this condition by releasing white blood cells to attack the bacteria. The end process of this war is what will leads to a zit!

Many people have found it very difficult to be able to differentiate between acne and pimples. Indeed, there is a very thin line that normally separates these phrases. To get clear on this, pimples are plugged and infected hair follicles while acne is the name of the disease. The two phrases are usually used interchangeably but clear definitions are yet to be availed by concerned medical experts.

These zits are usually experienced on face, bottoms, legs, scalp, and head. They can also occur in other parts of the body where there are hair follicles.


Pimples or zits have several causative factors that many of them may be out of your control. Their development relies on the number of body oils produced as well as how often your dead skin cells shed away.

Deep blind pimple
Deep blind pimple


Genetics also play a big role in their occurrence. Each of the factors that we are yet to discuss below vary from one person to another. Having a good compression of these factors will help you decide on a better treatment for your pimples.

1. Changes Hormonal Levels

Normally, skin problems begin at puberty when the body starts to experience variations in hormonal levels. Some people will also experience hormonal variations during pregnancy as well as menopause.

During puberty, the body will start to secrete a hormone called androgen, which is linked to enlargement of sebaceous glands, a gland that produces sebum. This will lead to overproduction of sebum oil hence providing servile ground their development.

2. Excess sebum production

When the sebaceous glands get stimulated with the sex hormones (androgen), it will produce excess sebum. When the excessive androgen will tend to travel to the skin surface through the follicles, it will combine with bacteria and dead skin cells that had been shed off from the lining of the follicles.

This process may make the pores to be plugged leading to the formation of pimples. The whole process of sebum production and dead skin shedding are normal, but excessive production of sebum is what can trigger their formation.

Testosterone is another natural hormone found in both males and females and have the potential to influence formation. According to Medicalnewstoday.com, “…testosterone can trigger the sebaceous glands to produce excess sebum, increasing the likelihood of clogged pores.

3. Bacterial infection

It is normal to have a bacteria on your skin, in fact, bacteria is present in all skin types. The common type is Propionibacterium acnes. It is harmless to the skin but the problem usually begins when there is the perfect environment for its growth! It will reproduce rapidly hence becoming problematic.

This bacterium feeds on sebum and in the process, it produces a substance that triggers immune response leading to skin inflammation hence the formation of this zits. According to research by Washington University School of Medicine, it seems that the severity and frequency of pimples can be defined by certain types of bacteria.

4. Dairy Products and high glycemic index foods

Many types of research have proved that high glycemic index foods can lead to the development of pimples. Dairy products as well have the potential to initiate too much production of body oils. Therefore medical nutrition therapy can genuinely be embraced in the treatments if caused by diet.

Notably, fat-free or diets with low fats are on the other hand very risky. Such diets may lead to skin dry out and affecting the levels of sebum production as well.

5. Other reasons

  • Certain medications
  • Follicle fallout
  • Inflammation especially when your skin come into contact with unfriendly bacteria
  • Depression and stress
  • Too much drinking as well as excessive smoking
  • Yeast infections
  • Genetics- this is the reason why some people may trend in certain families
  • Picking or squeezing blemishes can be again lead to this problem
  • Pressure resulting from bike helmets, backpacks, or tight collars
  • Friction caused by leaning on or rubbing the skin; harsh scrubbing
  • Greasy cosmetics

Apart from the above causative factors, bursting them or even some climates may make the condition of more severe.

Symptoms and types

It is important to note that, there are many types acne bearing different signs and symptoms. So in this section, we are going to discuss various types of their respective signs and symptoms.

1. Blackheads

They are also known as open comedo.  They occur when the plug is exposed to the air and become oxidized. Their black or dark color makes them visible on the skin surface. They are mild bumps but can be severe when infected.

2. Whiteheads

They are also called closed comedones.  They form when the comedo in concealed with the skin layer. They are very small and remain below the skin surface.

3. Papules

They are little, solid, round lumps that sprung from the skin. They are often pink in color.

4. Pustules

Pustules are those filled with pus and can be easily noticed on the skin surface. Their base is often red and they have a pus on the top. They are more serious than blackheads and whiteheads.

5. Nodules

Nodules have the same structure as pustules but the only difference is that they are large pimples. They form deep in the skin and can be very painful. Actually, they are what can be referred to as under-the-skin zits.

6.  Cysts

These are severe acne type that is filled with pus and are usually very painful. They leave behind scars

Under the skin deep or blind pimples

Have you had a big zit that occurs deep, under the skin? Well, such occur when the hair follicles are blocked deep inside your skin. They feel more like a swelling than just a zit but some don’t even have heads. They are very painful and could not be hidden.

The worst thing with such zits is that they occur deep in the skin that the surface therapies may not reach them. They under the skin usually takes a longer time to heal and they usually lead to the development of marks or scars. Therefore, such underneath huge pimples need a serious intervention by medical experts.

Best way to get rid them

Discussed below are the fast and effective ways to treat deep pimples:

1. Prid’s Drawing Salve

This is a black, greasy and stinky but wonderful remedy to draw out underneath them to the skin surface. It contain inflammatory agents such as phenol and ichthammol. It has Arnica for bruising, Calendula for curing and Echinacea to prove its antiseptic properties. They are dabbed on the bumps and then covered with Band-Aid. Should be applied when you go to bed.

2. Hot and cold compresses

This is another good remedy for under skin zits. Application of hot and cold compresses interchangeably can influence the pimples to develop a white head or start to harden. The compresses act by pressing the affeced area to expand and relax and this help to easily draw the plug as well as drawing the infection close to the skin surface.

3. Hot Poultice

You can also prepare ½ tablespoon of crushed garlic, ginger, and onion. Mix the ingredients and then cover them with Band-Aid on the zit. This can bring the deep cyst on the surface too.

4. Tea bag compress

This good deep remedy usually reduces the inflammation. it is actually the responsibility of tannins, an ingredient found in black tea. Teabags also help to bring this acne type to the surface.

5. Cortisone shot

This is the most effective therapy for the severe breakouts that has not even formed a head. For such cases, your dermatologist may prescribe for you cortisone shot. This medication has the ability to bring underneath huge pimples to the surface.

Treatments and Remedies

It is very important to acknowledge that the types of treatments to be employed on your pimples will solely depend on the underlying inducers. So here are some of the proved effective medications:

Over the counter drugs

Over the counter treatment can also be appropriate to the pimples depending on the status zits. They contain massive ingredients that are very effective in fighting pimples. Below are the important ingredient and insight on how they treat pimples:

a. Benzoyl Peroxide

This ingredient kills bacteria and also slows the production of sebum. It also works as a peeling agent and hence speeds the skin cell turnover to reduce bacteria in the affected skin.

b. Salicylic Acid

It helps to limit the rate at which the lining of follicle cells are shed. It breaks whiteheads and blackheads. It enhances the process of dead skin cells shedding. It also prevents the pores from getting plugged.

c.  Retin-A

This ingredient helps in unclogging the pores and also can be used as a chemical peel. It contains tretinoin and retinoic acids. They can also be used to stop aging skin.

d.  Sulphur

Sulphur can also destroy whiteheads and blackheads. It treats acne, psoriasis, and eczema. It oxidizes slowly to form sulfurous acid which acts as antibacterial agent.

e.  Azelaic Acid

It acts by strengthening cells lining the follicles wall, stops sebum eruption and also limits the bacterial growth. It contains dicarboxylic acid usually contained in wheat, barley and rye. This medicine also treats inflammations and acne marks.

Most of the above ingredients are found in the forms of creams, lotions, gels, soaps and well as pads. They are available over the counter with varying concentrations. It is therefore good, to begin with less concentrated medications especially for those having sensitive skins. For the very first application, these medications may prompt skin irritations, redness, and burning but after sometimes of use, these side effects will eventually vanish.

Prescribed medications

In some cases, over the counter treatments may not be very appropriate and therefore, you may need to visit your dermatologist. Below are some of the medications that your skin specialist doctor may prescribe:

a. Topical treatment

This types of medication are applied directly to the skin. They include tazarotene, adapalene, and tretinoin. Most of them, if not all, are derived from vitamin A. They help in combating bacteria linked to the acne.

It is good to have prior knowledge to know which of them may be suitable for your skin since, they often have side effects. Their side effects may include burning, peeling, redness and stinging. You should be close to your doctor to help you limit the attached side effects.

b.Use of antibiotics

For severe cases of pimples, use oral antibiotics alongside the above topical treatments. The commonly prescribed antibiotic is tetracycline. This treatment should strictly not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women as well as those using birth control medications.

Oral antibiotics should be used alongside benzoyl peroxide to reduce the antibiotic side effects.

c.  Laser and light treatments

This therapy is used to destroy Propionibacterium acnes which are blamed for skin inflammation. Due to the fact that this therapy reaches below the skin without damaging the skin, it can be very appropriate for curing huge pimples deep below the skin. It also makes the sebaceous glands to produce less sebum hence limiting the probability of developing them.

d.  Microdermabrasion and chemical peels

Microdermabrasion are commonly known for improving the status of the scarring effects and is a great tool for getting rid of acne scars. Chemical peels can also be very effective for treating blackheads and papules.

e.   Isotretinoin

When they trigger strong and severe symptoms, there may be a demand to apply stronger medications than the antibiotics. This is a stronger medication that may force your doctor to keep a closer watch on you due to potentially severe side effects. This makes this medication not to be used by pregnant women. However, is the best medication for acne that may work for many causes of acne.

f.  Drainage and extraction

Large cyst can be removed effectively using this treatment especially when the cyst seems not to respond to other medications. This medication will help to reduce the pain and prevent the cyst from leaving behind the scars.

Personal-lifestyle changes

Pimples can also be treated using self-help medications:

  • Due to the fact that some diet can lead to acne outbreak, scientist recommends the use of medical nutrition therapies to limit cases of outbreaks.
  • Make sure you wash your face regularly a day using mild soaps and lukewarm water
  • Refrain from popping pimples, this can push the infection deep under the skin leading to severe cases. Popping them also raises the risks of scarring as well as leading to serious blockage and severe swelling and skin reddening
  • Stop touching your skin using dirty hand hands. This may trigger infections that could make your pimples more serious. When receiving phones, don’t allow them to touch your face or neck skin. They may have collected some strains of sebum.
  • If you use glasses then. make sure you clean them regularly since they have the potential to collect sebum and another skin residue
  • Try to wear loose-fitting clothing and when possible, avoid wearing caps, headbands, and scarves. If you have to put them on, then make sure you wash them regularly.
  • Makeup usually clogs the pores especially when left to stay in the skin for a longer time. So use only noncomedogenic makeup and remove them before you tire to bed.
  • Always keep your hair short since sebum and dead skin cells usually build up in the hair
  • Remember overexposure to the sun often influences the oil glands to produce more oil. So be careful!

Home remedies

Several home remedies can also be very effective for curing mild forms of this acne type. They are actually good inexpensive options or methods. Below are the examples of the home natural products that can be used to cure pimples.

  • Toothpaste
  • Lemon juice
  • Tea tree oil
  • Garlic
  • Steam
  • Aloe vera
  • Vinegar


Pimples are prevalent skin problems, especially among the teens. If you notice you are developing these zits, begin treatments as soon as any of the early signs are discovered.

Make sure you are closer to your doctor and share any relevant information about your pimples. When home remedies or over the counter products don’t improve the situation, visit your doctor for further treatment.

Our References
  1. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/71702.php
  2. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/teenage-acne
  3. http://www.medicinenet.com/acne/article.htm
  4. http://www.healthline.com/symptom/acne
  5. http://www.top10homeremedies.com/how-to/how-to-get-rid-of-pimples-fast.html
  6. http://www.naturallivingideas.com/get-rid-of-pimples-fast/
  7. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/191530.php

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