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Acne/Pimples - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

Last Updated: Jul 19, 2021

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What is acne?

In medical terms, acne is better known as Acne Vulgaris. It is a disease of the skin which chiefly concerns the oil glands which are to be found at the base of hair follicles. It is most common in adolescents when these glands start functioning. The glands become active due to the stimulation received from the male hormones secreted by the adrenal glands of both the genders.

It is not a dangerous condition per se but can potentially scar the skin, a condition abhorred by those in the tumultuous adolescent phase. The oil or sebaceous glands are located beneath the skin and it is connected with the human skin through pores or tiny holes containing follicles or small canals. The function of the sebum or the oil produced by the gland is to carry dead skin cells to the skin’s surface. These follicles are susceptible to being blocked.

Pimples are usually found on the face, neck, shoulders, back and the chest in human beings. The skin cells, the oil-sebum and the hair clump together to form a plug. In time, the plug becomes infected due to the presence of bacteria which results in the swelling. The plug begins to break down and a pimple develops.

What is the cause of acne?

An interesting thing to note about acne is that it cannot be said for certain what is its cause. According to experts, the hormone androgen is the culprit which surges during puberty which in turn leads to the growth of skin glands resulting in excessive sebum. This sebum then breaks down the cellular wall of pores which enable bacterial growth.

According to some studies, there is also an element of genetic propensity. Medication with lithium and androgen may also lead to the condition. Greasy cosmetics are another culprit. Pregnancy-related hormonal changes may also result in acne.

What are the different types of acne pimples?

Acne pimples may be of various types. These include:

  • Whiteheads- These are very small and are usually present beneath the skin.
  • Blackheads- Blackheads can be seen clearly. They are black in color and make their appearance on the skin’s surface. It is a misconception that blackheads are caused by dirt and scrubbing your face with vigor is of little use.
  • Papules- Papules are small bumps typically pink in color on the skin’s surface.
  • Pustules- Pustules can be identified on the skin surface with ease. They have a red base with a top filled with pus.
  • Nobules- Nobules too stand out on the skin’s surface. They happen to be solid, large pimples. They are often accompanied by pain and are embedded in the depths of the skin.
  • Cysts- These are visible on the skin surface. They are usually painful and are pus filled. They are prone to cause scars.

What is the difference between acne and pimples?

The basic difference between acne lesions and pimples is their root cause.

A pimple is a result of the clumping of dead skin and excess oil known as sebum into the follicle. It turns into acne when the sebum is combined with bacterial growth which also causes redness and inflammation.

Even though pimples can lead to acne lesions, acne growth on the other hand cannot lead to pimples.

What is good for acne pimples?

An increased amount of bacteria and oil in skin layers may lead to an occasional pimple or acne pimple. Here are some of the daily life hacks that one can pursue to keep your skin acne-free:

  1. Consumption of zinc supplements:

    Zinc is essential for the overall production of cells, hormones and strengthens metabolism and the immune system. The optimum dosage for acne-free skin is approximately 30–45 mg as per your zinc level in the bloodstream. Excess amounts of zinc may lead to stomach irritation and pain.

  2. Tea tree oil treatment:

    Melaleuca alternifolia or tea tree extract can fight skin inflammation and bacteria naturally, yet its effects on different skin types are still under research. It is effective in treating skin acne but it is advisable to consult a dermatologist before its diluted application.

  3. Green tea therapy:

    Green tea is known for its high level of antioxidants which reduces toxic elements in your bloodstream. Consumption of green tea regularly and its occasional application on the skin can reduce bacteria that are responsible for acne lesions.

    Note: Consult your dietician before consumption as it cuts down the sugar level in the body.

  4. Consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids supplements:

    Omega-3 fatty acids is known as healthy fat which promotes a healthy immune system. A healthy immune system will keep your skin healthy and clean.

  5. Exfoliate and keep it clean:

    Dust, dirt, and dead skin can clog pores and lead to acne pimples. Occasional exfoliation using natural scrubs or face brushes with soft bristles will help you keep it healthy. It is important to keep the open pores safe from further clogging.

  6. Avoid glycemic load diets:

    Even though the relation between glycemic index and acne is still not clear, scientists suggest that keeping a diet with a low glycemic index will keep you away from acne and pimples.

  7. Stay happy and stress-free:

    Hormone released during stress may be toxic and may supplement the production of sebum in your body. It's still not specified that stress leads to skin acne but it sure does accelerate the production. Keeping yourself stress-free may be healthy for your overall immune system.

  8. Keep an active physical lifestyle:

    Exercise and active physical life promote healthy blood circulation which lowers down the possibility of acne lesions. It also regulates hormone levels which also boost positive energy levels.


How do I get rid of pimples overnight?

Pimples are easy to get rid of and in most cases can be cured within a night. With the help of some basic remedies, one can have clean skin overnight:

  1. Tea Tree Oil treatment:

    Apply a diluted amount of tea tree oil on the affected area and let it sit for 2-4 hours. Wash it with warm water for clean skin.

  2. Aloe Vera:

    Aloe vera has cooling effects on the skin which reduces redness and inflammation overnight. It also fights back from bacteria if used regularly. Best when kept at a low temperature.

  3. Honey:

    Its antibacterial properties reduce inflammation and redness. Dab a drop of honey and keep it overnight for best effects.

  4. Green tea therapy:

    Is rich in antioxidants and its concentrated application can reduce bacterial growth and promotes clean skin.

  5. Ice:

    Acne can be treated by rubbing ice on the affected area as it decreases redness and inflation on the skin. It also soothes the skin from the damage caused by bacterial infection. Rubbing ice on the skin before sleep can cure pimples overnight.

  6. Crushed aspirin paste:

    Aspirin has anti-inflammatory properties which can help you get rid of acne overnight. Crush an aspirin and mix it with water to form a paste, apply it to the affected area and leave it overnight for effective results.

Does drinking water help acne?

The relation between healthy water consumption and acne lesions is still under research. But scientists believe that keeping yourself hydrated will promote the overall health of the body which may include diminished bacterial and oil growth in the follicles. Keeping yourself hydrated also promotes:

  • Boost immunity:

    keeping yourself hydrated promotes a healthy flow of minerals and helps you to flush toxins out of your body. It also keeps your immunity intact to fight back from any types of bacterial growth.

  • Hydrated skin:

    Dry skin can trigger oil production which may lead to pimples. Keeping it hydrated will lower down the sebum level in the body.

Is coffee good for pimples?

Scientists still have not discovered the relation between the two, but yes excess intake of coffee might increase the risk of acne, depending on the amount of coffee, sugar, and milk consumed regularly.

Excess intake of caffeine can heighten your stress levels which can lead to a release of toxic hormones, such as cortisol, which increases oil produced by your sebaceous glands.

Often consumption of caffeine is used to manipulate an individual's sleep. Synthetic sleep deprivation also releases hormones that affect your body.

Also, consumption of full-fat milk, refined sugar, and other components that are often paired with coffee can boost sebum and excess oil production.

How long does acne last?

Acne is quite common at the time of puberty and early adulthood which can be categorized aged between 12 and 25 years. It is due to hormonal imbalance and usually affects the face, back, neck and chest.

Often it goes away naturally within 3-5 years, but in some cases, the imbalance may need external treatment to get back to normal.

This also happens to adults, from mild lesions to severe acne spread, acne can be witnessed in every age group above 12.


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Written ByDr. Shaurya Rohatgi MD - Dermatology , Venereology & Leprosy,MBBSDermatology
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