Dealing with Pimples
Pimples are those unwelcome pink little bumps that crop up on the cheeks, chins and foreheads of youngsters often spoiling that otherwise perfect party or sometimes shattering self-esteem and scarring their faces for years. True, they are not dangerous, in the sense, they do not kill or shorten life, but their effects can be pretty nasty and long lasting, on the skin and on their personalities.
Also known as acne, spot or comedo, they result from oily secretions getting stuck in skin pores. Inside the pore are sebacious glands that produce sebum. When the outer layers of skin shed (as they do continuously), the dead skin cells left behind may become ‘glued’ together by the sebum.
Their appearance around adolescence suggests that hormones play a role in their development. Around puberty, the skin tends to get thicker and the sebaceous glands go into overdrive producing more sebum that builds up behind the blockage. Sometimes this sebum gets infected with bacteria such as Propiobacterium acnes, causing infection, soreness, formation of pustules that sometimes cause scars.
Scientists are not quite clear why some people develop acne while others do not, and why they come in some as occasional pimples while in some as huge crops. It is however a by-and-large urban phenomenon.
Certain types of diet seem to bring them on in people who are prone. Studies suggest that high consumption of simple sugars, fats and carbohydrates could be harmful. Indeed, people with bad crops of acne often benefit from periods of fat and sugar free, high fibre diets of veggies and fruits.
Treatment consists of keeping the skin pores often and clean, removing the debris and oily secretions with frequest washes. Soaps are not bad and alcohol based skin cleaners can be of help in many with difficulty resistant acne.
Treatment in earlier times often consisted of long courses of antibiotics such as doxycycline or tetracycline. These kill the germs that infected the blocked glands. A better approach is to allow the glands draining well by keeping the pores or mouths open with frequent skin cleansing.
Vitamin A has been found to be helpful in people with difficult pimples. Tretinoin or one of its compounds is often a favourite with modern dermatologists. One needs to be careful though that high doses can be heavy on the liver.
Pimples don’t kill, but they sometimes maim and change the course of events in a young person’s life. Help is at hand. Do not let them dictate your future!