What Are Pimples?
Pimples (acne vulgaris, or acne for short) are a common skin condition characterized by chronic or recurrent development of papules, pustules, or nodules on the skin. Pimples are common among adolescents and young adults but can occur at any age.
What Are Symptoms of Pimples?
Pimples typically appear on the face, chest, upper back, and shoulders.
Symptoms of pimples include:
- Small, red, tender bumps (papules)
- Papules with pus at the tip (pustules)
- Whiteheads (closed plugged pores)
- Blackheads (open plugged pores)
- Large, solid, painful lumps under the skin (nodules)
- Painful, pus-filled lumps under the skin (cystic lesions)
What Causes Pimples?
The cause of pimples is clogged pores, which are caused by:
How Are Pimples Diagnosed?
Pimples (acne) are diagnosed by a dermatologist with a skin examination.
Some other skin conditions may look like pimples, but are not, and require different treatment. This is why it is important to get a diagnosis from a dermatologist to rule out conditions that resemble pimples, such as:
What Is the Treatment for Pimples?
The best treatment for pimples includes:
- Topical (on the skin) medications
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Azelaic acid
- Benzoyl peroxide plus a retinoid or a topical antibiotic
- Women may need a birth control pill or patch approved to treat acne
Pimples may often be treated with self-care at home. Home treatments for acne include:
- Wash twice daily and after sweating and rinse with lukewarm water
- Use gentle, non-abrasive cleanser and apply with fingertips
- Washcloths and sponges may irritate the skin
- Don’t scrub skin
- Use gentle products on the skin
- Choose alcohol-free products
- Avoid products that can irritate skin because this can aggravate acne
- Shampoo oily hair daily
- Don’t pick, pop, or squeeze pimples
- Let skin heal naturally
- Picking at pimples can make them take longer to go away and can increase the risk of scarring
- Don’t touch your face because bacteria on your fingers can get into pores and cause pimples
- Avoid the sun and tanning beds
- Ultraviolet (UV) light damages the skin
- Some acne medications make the skin sensitive to UV light
Other treatments for acne include:
- Laser or light therapy
- May help clear acne
- Works best combined with other acne treatments
- Corticosteroid injections
- Used for large, painful, deep acne breakouts
- Relieves pain and inflammation quickly
- Usually reserved for treating a few severe acne breakouts due to possible side effects
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