Anatomy of a Pimple

File this under gross but fascinating (or at least helpful to know, in order to take care of your skin!) We can all see what a nasty pimple is doing to the surface of our skin, but ever wonder what is going on underneath, where we can’t see?According to Healthwise, “Pimples form when dead skin cells mix with excess oil (sebum). This mixture plugs the pore, causing swelling. Bacteria can grow in the mix and lead to infection and pus.”

Yes, any statement containing the word “pus” is gross, but here’s more, from Edward Willet’s Science Column: “Strictly speaking, neither a blackhead or a whitehead is a pimple, which is bigger, redder and more painful. A pimple forms when bacterial growth gets out of hand: the sebaceous gland eventually bursts, causing inflammation, swelling and pain. More white blood cells rush to the site to fight the inflammation; they, in turn, can mix with the oil, bacteria and dead cells to form the worst kind of pimple of all, a white-tipped pustule–which, for some reason, we want to pick at and squeeze, although we shouldn’t, because that just spreads the infection around and can cause scarring.”

Why shouldn’t you squeeze a pimple? Take a look at this:

According to Health Seakers, when you squeeze a pimple, the pressure can spread the infection, as seen in their diagram above. This infection spreads above the skin but also deep inside the pore, which can cause scarring. When scar tissue forms, it can appear as a pit or depression in the skin.

Great, now we know that pimples are gross, “pus” is a nasty word, and diagrams of pimples are not to be viewed just before lunch. Besides impressing your friends, how does this knowledge benefit you, especially if you have a big, red zit taunting you right now?

Never fear: click here for WikiHow’s advice on how to get rid of a pimple, and click here for tips to avoid acne in the first place.

To wrap up today’s lesson, make sure you don’t fall for common myths about acne:

#1. Popping pimples is the best way to get rid of them.

#2. Eating fried foods or chocolate causes acne.

#3. Stress causes acne.

#4. Getting a tan clears up acne.

#5. You can get rid of acne by washing your face more.

#6. If you want to avoid acne, don’t wear make-up.

#7. Using more medicine will get rid of a pimple faster.

Click here for the full-length article and explanations of each myth!


6 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Pimple

  1. But the diet on the whole and your way of life affects your skin. It would be stupid to say that stress or make-up wouldn’t make your acne worse. I had skin problems as a teenager and even now my skin reacts to lack of sleep, eating and exercising habits etc.Who is that Ken Black anyway? Didn’t say anywhere he has a degree on acne.PS. I just watched a documentary (posted about it too) on chemicals and there can be harmful compounds even in body lotions so be careful with that make-up.

  2. Ken Black is a writer; he doesn’t hold an “acne degree” but his article was reviewed by Patrice Hyde, MD, a dermatologist.Food and stress can likely aggravate acne, just like your overall appearance, but in isolation, they don’t cause acne all by themselves.

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