A pimple can occur on the face and skin of other parts of your body. In general, it can occur when dead cells of skin and oil plug the hair follicles. In fact, face is the most common area where it occurs, but sometime it also can be found on the shoulders, back, and neck. There are some helpful options, treatments, and home remedies to have a pimple free face and skin. But before going to discuss about this issue, it’s also much better to know some common factors that can trigger acne.
As written before, the dead cells of skin are the starting point for a pimple to occur. And anyone can have these dead cells naturally, because the skin needs to regenerate new cells continuously. So, the new cells will replace the old cells. In other words, it’s perfectly normal to have dead cells of skin.
In the case of acne prone skin, these dead cells are the starting point where the pimples come from.
The length of how fast a pimple forms may vary from person to person. But they can start about more than 14 days before you can even notice them on the skin.
And for the length of desquamation (a medical term used to describe the process from a cell of skin births to become a dead cell when it reaches stratum corneum ‘the outset layer of epidermis – and epidermis is outermost section of your skin’) can take about 28 days!
To clearly understand how pimples form on the skin, it’s also much better to learn the following major components /sections of your skin:
This skin’s outermost section has five major layers, and stratum germinativum is its deepest layer. Stratum germinativum consists of a single layer of cells. It is the location where new cell of skin births.
The new cells in the stratum germinativum begin to travel to the higher level of epidermis layers. Before reaches the outermost layer of epidermis (stratum corneum), they need to travel through stratum mucosum and then stratum spinosum. Stratum germinativum, stratum mucosum, and stratum spinosum are also medically called as the basal layer.
After going through the basal layer, the cells then will be pushed up through the upper layer called stratum granulosum. In this phase, the cells start hardening and dying. And by the time they reach this layer, they become dead cells. The outermost layer of epidermis is made up of those tightly packed dead cells of skin which continuously being replaced and falling off.
It is a deeper section of skin after epidermis, and it is made up of strong connective tissue. This section has crucial function to supply blood and nutrient to the epidermis. This means that it also plays a key role in maintain the elasticity of the skin. Though it only consists 2 major distinct layer (papillary & reticular layer), but it is much thicker if compared with epidermis.
Dermis is the area of some important elements for the skin such as hair follicles, sweat (sudoriferous) glands, muscles that support your hair stand on end (these muscles called as arrector pili muscles), oil (sebaceous) glands, nerves, lymph vessels, and blood vessels. Both hair follicles and oil glands with dead cells of skin are often associated with the form of pimple /acne.
They are tube-like opening (small tube) in the skin through which sebum & hair reach the outermost surface of the skin. And the epidermis (the outermost section of skin) lines the inside the hair follicles – though hair follicles are contained within dermis! In general, they consist of some major parts that include the sebaceous glands, sebaceous duct, bulb & hair root, and pore-opening.
The following is a helpful picture of cross section of skin (image credit to Science Learning Hub).
In the normal case, the oil (sebaceous) glands secrete sebum /oil into the pore. Typically, dead cells and sebum naturally come up on the outermost surface of the skin through the pore opening. But in the case with pimple, this mechanism can be awry!
This kind of bacteria is the responsible behind the inflamed acne that breakouts. They naturally live within the hair follicle – and therefore, they should be harmless. But sometime, they can grow out of control – particularly in the acne prone skin.
When the pore opening is blocked, there is a greater chance of this problem to obstruct the oxygen flow to the hair follicle. With the excess production of sebum and lack of oxygen in the pore opening, this condition can be an ideal environment for P-acne bacteria to grow rapidly.
The accumulation of excessive P-acne, sebum, and dead cells within the pore opening can make swelling and result the rupturing & spilling wall of hair follicle into the dermis. The body responds by releasing some white blood cells to help control the overgrowth of P-acne bacteria back to the normal.
But this mechanism often followed with redness & swelling – and a pimple /acne has now formed. If the rupturing of hair follicle’s wall falls near the surface of the skin, a pimple can form minor and typically will heal quickly. But when it breaks deeper within the dermis, this is more likely to create severe pimples such as cysts or nodules.
Though acne or pimple can affect anyone, but there are some risk factors of the problem. Risk factors in this discussion mean conditions /factors that can put you at greater chance than others of developing acne /pimple. Some of these risk factors can include:
- Age – teens /young adults are relative easier to have acne if compared with adults /older adults. This reasonable since teens are still going into their puberty when the balance of their hormones are going fluctuating till they reach the post puberty.
- Women who are at childbearing age or when they are at the age of menstruation also tend to develop acne. Many women reports that they have acne flare-ups in few days before they get their menstruation. This is also reasonable since menstrual periods also can affect the balance of hormones in women.
- Pimples are relatively easier to occur on the skin if you wear tight-fitting items or straps that can rub against your skin such as wearing helmets, headbands, shoulder pads that usually used by a professional football player, or turtleneck sweaters. Using certain equipments that rub against your skin (like a violin held between shoulder & cheek) also can increase your chance of having pimples.
- Pimples on the face tend to occur if you scrub your face too hard or wash your face too often. A hot water (at very high temperature) and harsh soaps also should be avoided, because they can worsen the pimples.
- If you are an individual who easily to sweat a lot, you are also relatively easier to have acne than others who sweat normally.
- As well we know, hands are the simple and practical way for germ /dirt to enter into your body. If you have a habit of touching your face a lot with your hands, this also can increase your chance of developing some pimples on your face.
- Having uncontrolled stress or chronic stress. See also the in-depth information about the link between stress and acne in here!
- On a regular basis, working with harsh chemicals /oils also can increase your risk.
- A condition that can make your skin to become oiler, such as having hair /long hair that frequently hanging in your face.
- Choosing and using wrong hair /skin care products, particularly those that have irritating substances.
- Side effects of certain medicines such as lithium, some types of barbiturates, and corticosteroids.
For the explanations mentioned before about the causes and risk factors, now you should know about the appropriate steps you need to follow to keep your face and skin free from pimples. The following are other advice that can help: