What is a pimple?

A pimple is a small swelling on the skin caused by a blocked pore. Recurring or multiple pimples are called acne. Many people see pimples as unsightly and try to avoid them if possible. There are several ways to treat pimples before they appear, and there are also some options to treat pimples after they appear. As is the case with any type of medical condition, severe or painful pimples should be treated by a doctor.

A pimple forms when dead skin tries to break away but can't, due to a stoppage in the skin's pores. Commonly, these breakouts are caused by the overproduction of the sebaceous glands, which normally work to keep the skin healthy. Dirt and infection in a pore can also lead to a blockage, which will cause a pimple. In some cases, the pimple can be filled with pus.

Many people instinctively want to pop a pimple when they see one. This is actually not recommended, as it can drive blockage and infectious material deeper into the skin, leading to painful infections and unsightly scarring. Only whiteheads and blackheads should be popped, and red pus-filled pimples should be left alone. When a pimple is popped or extracted, it should be done under sterile conditions, to reduce the risk of infection, and a dermatologist or esthetician should ideally perform the extraction.

To avoid pimples, keeping your skin clean is the best step. Clean skin is less likely to break out in pimples, as regular washing and using an exfoliator will remove accumulated dead skin and dirt. There may be some dietary changes that can be made to reduce pimples, such as eating less fats and oils, although a clear link between diet and pimples has not been established, and it may be different for different people. Avoiding stress is also a good way to reduce the chance of flare-up.

Once pimples arise, they should be left alone and allowed to run their course naturally. In most cases, a pimple will go away after a few days. Try to avoid touching or irritating the pimple, and use clean hands if you must touch it. Don't cover a pimple with makeup, as this can increase the severity of the blockage. If a pimple doesn't go away, or if it becomes large, painful, or obviously irritated, see a dermatologist about it.

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