Pimple. Zit. Blemish. Acne. We have heard them all. Young and old alike are subject to getting them. Pimples are not discriminating! But what the heck are they? Clogged pores. Duh. Yeah, we know that, right. But if you are looking at your face daily asking yourself, “What IS that thing!?” Let me break down your break out for you:
Blackheads: These are clogged pores – which are filled with body oils, dead skin cells and bacteria – but the opening to the pore remains open. Because the top of the pore is exposed to the environment, it becomes darker in color.
Whiteheads: These are very similar to blackheads except the opening to the pore is closed, most likely by a layer of dead skin cells, trapping all that debris – including the bacteria – in. The closed pore isn’t exposed to the air, so it remains softer than blackheads and remains white in color.
These two types of pimples are the most common and everyone gets them from time to time. Teens and adults alike. Being more diligent in your face washing regimen will usually be all that is needed to keep these pesky pimples at bay. Try not to pick at these. We always want to do that, but don’t. Its just not good for your already irritated pores and will cause the bacteria to spread to other pores.
Kicking it up a notch, brings us to papules and pustules. These types of blemish occur when the pores holding the debris become too full and the walls of your cells break. This is irritating to your skin, so that is why the redness can sometimes occur.
Papules are usually harder to the touch and if you have a bunch of them close together it can almost remind you of the texture of sandpaper.
Pustules are softer because that dirty debris within the pore remains more liquid and the bacteria is working overtime thus creating redness around each one with a yellowish tint to the head of each inflamed pore. Get a bunch of these bad boys together and now we are talking quite a condition that needs addressed. Seeing a professional esthetician and getting yourself on a professional grade skin care system will usually bring these types of acne under control.
The most serious of break outs are the nodules and cysts. These types of pimples occur much deeper in the skin layers and appear as very large swollen red bumps. Nodules feel harder to the touch than cysts. Either one is serious enough where treatment from a professional dermatologist is necessary for relief – no home cure or over-the-counter treatment will effectively treat this level of acne. You don’t want to mess around with these or pick at them – like, EVER! No way! Serious, scarring damage can occur if you try to take matters into your own hands with this level of acne.
Bottom line on blemishes: Each type has its own level of care required. If you go after a simple whitehead with a vengeance, you may end up causing the rest of your face to suffer from the excessive abuse. So it’s important you know what you’re looking at so it can be dealt with appropriately. If you are not sure, ask a professional. Estheticians (like myself) are trained in being able to identify the various stages of pimples and will know whether to treat you or refer you to a dermatologist. Trust the products and the professionals who perscribe them. Consistency is key no matter what you use. Any treatment will take up to 8 weeks to be effective. Your skin’s cell turn over takes at least 28 days for teens and up to 48 days for adults. Practice patience. AND MOST OF ALL: DON’T PICK! You do your skin no favors when you pick. Professionals may need to assist in extractions. Trust them to know when it is necessary and when it is best left alone.
Until next time, remember to take care of you!