Pimples Vs Acne: Blights On The Skin And Your Emotions
As per medical observations, acne is a disease, whereas pimples can be a forerunner to acne.
If memory serves me right, for most of us - through most of our adolescent days, the mirror wasn’t always our best friend. Having been bombarded by hormonal, emotional and physical changes, our obsession with the growing pains of adolescence was pivotal to our every waking moment. And the biggest bane of our lives, as every teenager knows, was that itinerant appearance of the pimple on your face on the day of a party; or, God forbid, the more serious visitation of acne!
First, let’s get down to the basics of what pimples and acne are all about and how we can go about attending to these annoying skin and sometimes severely distressing eruptions.
Pimples are those small growths that erupt out of the blue on the surface of your skin. These small red blips with a white centre also have a tendency to get discoloured or inflamed when a bacterium infects the blocked hair follicles. Acne is a condition created by the build-up in the pore of the skin with excess oil sebum production from the tiny oil glands at the base of the hair follicle, close to the surface of the skin; oil and dead skin cells clogging hair follicles; inflammation and bacteria. This plug clogs the pores of the skin which results in the skin condition of acne and creates a breeding ground for the bacteria known as propionibacterium acnes which is the most bountiful bacterium found on human skin, especially in sebaceous areas like the face, forehead, shoulders and upper back.
While teenagers and young adults are most prone to pimples, it’s also quite common that these can appear even later on in life when we are fully grown adults through our 20s and 30s. Only the obsession with them can be less in our later years, compared to our teenage days! Though it’s possible to get acne at any age, it most commonly appears during the teenage years.
Common triggers are genetics, hormonal changes during the teenage years when skin becomes oilier, medication such as drugs containing corticosteroids, testosterone or lithium; dietary conditions such as influenced by carbohydrate-rich and oily foods and stress
We have oil glands all across our bodies which secrete sebum, an oily lubricant which keeps your skin healthy and hydrated. However, the big culprit behind breakouts of pimples and acne is the workings of these oil glands. Any kind of inflammation or clogging of these glands can cause a pimple to form. These clogs or inflammation can result from an increase in sebum, an unusual formation of keratin–and the heightened presence of bacteria. It can also happen because of a rise in the production of the androgen hormone.
Pimples come in different forms
Papules: tiny red, tender bumps which have a tendency to get inflamed and can be a bit painful
Whiteheads: These eruptions which appear as a dirty white or yellow result from pores getting clogged by oil and dead skin
Pustules: A whitehead looks alike, these pimples are filled with pus. Avoid picking or scratching at them as they can leave scars in their wake.
Blackheads: These open pores on the skin’s surface are plugged by excess oil and dead skin.
Cysts: These are lumps under the skin filled with white or yellow pus, which is a mix of dead white blood cells and tiny bits of tissue
Nodules: These can be embedded deep under the skin as large painful lumps.
Types of Acne
Acne can result from aggravated whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, cysts and nodules. The last two forms are a more painful form of acne, impacting more deeply in the skin.
Treatment and management of Pimples and Acne
Compared to Pimples, which can disappear with time past adolescence, Acne can be much more persistent and require greater medical care. You can take some comfort because pimples are not contagious.
Avoid the temptation to squeeze or burst pimples; it could lead to bacterial infection and scarring. Amongst the non-prescription medical remedies to combat a mild form of pimples, one can use Azelaic Acid: a natural acid, that bumps off skin microorganisms and brings down swelling, an over-the-counter wash Benzoyl peroxide, Retinoids such as Retin-A®, Tazorac® and Differin® which prevent clogged pores and Salicylic acid which aids in dissolving dead skin cells to stop hair follicles from getting clogged.
Your health advisor can help you reduce oil production and swelling and treat bacterial infections to control Acne with medication. Some common drugs used to help are Retinoids and retinoid-like drugs, which come as creams, gels and lotions that can help combat a moderate acne condition. Antibiotics are useful for vanquishing excess skin bacteria and reducing redness and inflammation. Azelaic Acid, a naturally occurring acid from yeast, is loaded with antibacterial properties. Salicylic Acid can be useful for preventing clogged hair follicles. Dapsone (Aczone) serves as a gel to combat inflammatory acne.
While it’s impossible to prevent pimples and, as a more acute spin-off from that–acne, one can take basic measures to avoid aggravating these conditions with our personal hygiene and healthcare.
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