Health & Fitness

Pimples: A common problem among teenagers


A pimple is a small-sized papule. When sebaceous glands present inside your skin become clogged and infected, pimples develop. It leads to a red lesion with pus. Sebaceous glands basically secrete a type of oil called sebum and it also clogs in the skin during the formation of pimples. Pimples most commonly form during puberty. During puberty, hormonal changes occur in the body due to which sebaceous glands present in the skin become overactive and start secreting more sebum. So, pimples are most likely to form during the teenage. As more sebaceous glands are present on the face, pimples most often affect the facial area.

Main causes of pimples

Skin diagram showing the position of Sebaceous Gland
Skin diagram showing the position of Sebaceous Gland

Some of the main causes of pimple formation are as follows:

Sebaceous glands secretion

These are oil-producing glands present in the skin. Sebaceous glands usually release a substance called sebum on the surface of the skin and are attached to hair follicles. The main function of sebum is to lubricate the skin. New skin cells are constantly growing as sebaceous glands produce sebum. The outer layers of skin are also being shed constantly. Blockage in skin pores occurs when dead skin cells are not shed and they remain stuck inside the skin with sebum which causes a blockage in the pore. During adolescence, this kind of pore blockage is most commonly seen. Blockage of skin pores can also lead to blackheads.

Bacterial infection

When sebum and dead skin cells are stuck inside the pores of the skin, it can lead to the growth of several kinds of bacteria leading to infection. There are many kinds of bacteria present on the skin of the human body. These bacteria live harmlessly on human skin. But when conditions are suitable, these bacteria can reproduce rapidly and can be harmful. They can lead to inflammation and spots on the skin. Painful bumps that look like acne can be caused by a bacteria known as staph bacteria. This bacteria is present on our skin all the time. Although, bacterial infections cause pimples they are not contagious, which means that they can never be transmitted from one person to another.

Types of pimples

There are many types of pimples which include the following:


A papule is a very small raised area of skin. It can have a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. These are often called skin lesions as they change the color of skin. Papules are often pink in color. Like most forms of acne, papules are mainly caused by sebum and bacteria trapped inside the skin.


Blackheads are clearly visible on the skin surface. There is a pigment present in the skin called Melanin. When the oxidation of melanin happens, they cause the formation of blackheads.


They appear small and flesh-colored papules. Whiteheads remain under the skin. The area around a whitehead is not red or inflamed.

Cysts formation

These kinds of pimples can easily grow anywhere on the skin. A cyst is a sac-like pocket of membranous tissue that contains fluid. They are clearly visible on the skin, filled with pus are extremely painful. Most cysts are benign and non-cancerous.


These are small and pus-filled lesions on the skin surface. These are also clearly visible on the skin. The main difference between papules and pustules is that papules have no visible pus.

Risk factors involved

Genetic factors and hormonal fluctuations may play a role in the formation of pimples on the skin surface as the problem of pimples often runs in families. Some other risk factors are also involved which include:

High levels of Testosterone

Testosterone is the male sex hormone that is made in testicles. It is also released in very small amounts in females also. During puberty, higher levels of testosterone trigger the activity in sebaceous glands which as a result releases more and more sebum. As more sebum is secreted on the skin surface, it increases the chances of the formation of pimples. Higher levels of Androgens also cause the formation of pimples.

Dietary habits

Some foods and drinks like soda, cake, and white rice can increase the chances of the formation of pimples. These foods are rich in carbohydrates and sugar which can enter into your blood circulation very quickly. Higher sugar amounts in the blood can cause an increase in the blood level of Insulin that can affect the skin by altering the other hormones. Milk consumption has been associated with acne. Refined grains, fast food, and chocolate consumption may also lead to the formation of acne.

Prevention of pimples

  • Vitamin A, D, and E are known to play a key factor in maintaining a healthy skin. An increase in the use of these vitamins can fight acne and lead to clearer skin.
  • Wash your face properly in order to prevent pimples. Use a non-comedogenic cleanser and be gentle while washing your face and other skin with acne. You can also use a face wash for managing the acne as it removes oils and dead skin that is trapped inside your skin surface. It is important to wash your face twice daily to remove dead skin cells and excessive oil.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking a proper amount of water a day along with proper cleaning of skin allows the water to remove dead skin cells. It eventually retains skin moisture and health.
  • Do not try to touch your face while having acne. Touching the skin throughout the day can easily spread oil and dirt on the skin that can contribute to the poor skin conditions.
  • If you are taking some medication for treatment of acne, your skin can be more sensitive to sunlight. Sun exposure leads to skin inflammation. Sunlight can cause scarring after pimples heal.
  • Having a proper knowledge about your skin type is very important to know which product to use for skincare. Consulting a dermatologist is important is order to your skin type. Your skin type can be dry or oily.
  • Certain makeup products such as foundations worsen the acne because the acne-prone skin is sensitive. However, some dermatologists suggest that it is fine for acne patients to wear makeup.
  • Popping the pimples can cause bleeding, sever scarring, and infection making your pimple problem even worse. So, you should avoid popping the pimples.
  • Dermatologists often recommend antibiotics to treat acne. Antibiotics kill the bacteria that cause acne and improve the health of your skin. First choice of treating acne is tetracycline. For severe acne, you may need oral antibiotics. Acne medications work by reducing the amount of oil and dead skin cells
  • Stress dose not cause pimples but it may make them worse. Reason is that when you are more stressed, your body produces more oil-stimulating hormones. Exercise and yoga are best options.

When to consult a doctor?

If pimples become very painful and the condition does not improve with the passage of time, consult a doctor. Pimples can take as long as six weeks to go away.

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