Dear Mirror Doctor, Please can you explain why I keep getting pimples? I am a 20-year-old.
Dear Worried boy, Pimples, medically known as acne is a disease that affects the skin’s oil or sebaceous glands.
It occurs when tiny holes on the surface of the skin called pores become clogged.
Each pore is an opening to a follicle which contains a hair and an oil gland.
These oil glands help lubricate the skin and help remove old skin cells.
When these glands produce too much oil, the pores can become blocked.
Dirt, debris, bacteria, and inflammatory cells build up as a result.
The blockage is called a plug in medical parlance.
The tip of the plug may be white (whitehead) or dark (blackhead).
If the plug breaks open, the material inside causes swelling and red bumps to form.
If the inflammation is deep in the skin, the pimples may enlarge to form firm, painful cysts.
Pimple is most commonly seen in teenagers although it can happen at any age, even in an infant.
Three out of four teenagers have pimples.
In addition, there is a naturally occurring bacterium that lives on the skin without causing problems.
Hormonal activity, such as menstrual cycles may contribute to the formation of acne.
During puberty, an increase in male sex hormones called androgens causes the follicular glands to grow larger and make more secretions or sebum.
The development of acne in later years is uncommon.
In adult women, it may be a feature of an underlying condition such as pregnancy and hormonal disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome.
Some people have postulated genetic links because some families have the tendency to develop acne.
While the connection between acne and stress has been debated, scientific research indicates that “increased acne severity” is “significantly associated with increased stress levels.”
In addition, a highly refined sugary diet is associated with worsening acne.
There is also an association between the consumption of milk and the rate and severity of acne.
Other associations such as chocolate and salt are not supported by any evidence however these products are known to contain refined sugars.
There is no truth in the assumption that groundnut and coconut consumption causes pimples.
The following home remedy steps can help improve acne:
• Clean the skin gently with a mild, nondrying soap.
Remove all dirt or make-up.
Wash once or twice a day, including after exercising.
• Shampoo the hair daily, especially if it is oily.
Comb or pull the hair back to keep the hair out of the face.
• Try not to squeeze, scratch, pick or rub the pimples.
Although it might be tempting to do this, it can lead to skin infections and scarring.
• Avoid wearing tight headbands, baseball caps, and other hats
• Avoid touching the face with the hands or fingers.
• Avoid greasy cosmetics or creams.
Take off make-up at night.
Many different treatments exist for acne.
Acne usually disappears after the teenage years, but it may last into middle age.
The condition often responds well to treatment after six-eight weeks, but it may flare up from time to time.
Scarring may occur if severe acne is not treated and some people, especially teenagers, can become depressed as a result.
Emotional support would be in order.
A member of Paediatric Society of Ghana