A Step-by-Step Guide to How A Pimple Forms
Learning about the acne cycle can help you understand why it’s important to use certain products and ingredients.
Acne is an extremely common skin condition, and it affects girls, boys, teenagers and even adult women and men. When you’re dealing with abreakout, you’re probably too focused on the blemish (or blemishes) to think about how it got there—and that’s ok. But when you’re ready, learning about the acne cycle can help you understand why it’s important to use certain products and ingredients , as well as how they work. Once it all “clicks,” you just might find yourselfwanting to use your acne treatment regimen every morning and night, which is essential for achieving and maintaining clear skin.
A clogged pore
Did you know that pores are actually the “holes” where hairs come out of the skin? Hairs are produced at the very bottom of these channels, and they often get clogged up with dead skin cells. The skin naturally sheds these cells, but they can clog the pores when they mix with the oil produced by the skin and trap bacteria inside. One way to help prevent acne is to cleanse more effectively. Dermatologist Hadley King, MD says, “Cleansing brushes exfoliate, helping to slough away the skin cells that can clog pores. This also allows cleansers to penetrate the skin more easily to deliver medication where it’s needed.”
Too much oil.
“Excess oil is a main cause of acne breakouts,” explains Dr. King. The amount of oil produced by the skin depends on a few factors. Hormones play a major role, which is why acne usually appears as puberty begins as well as in times of stress. Genetics can also be a reason why your skin produces more oil—and you experience breakouts while some of your other friends may not. Once a pore is clogged, excess oil that is produced can’t get out, and this leads to bumps and irritation.
P. acnes bacteria live on everyone’s skin, but oil and dead skin cells are their “food” of choice. They basically have an all-you-can-eat buffet once a pore becomes clogged, which helps them multiply inside. Dermatologists have been pointing the finger at P. acnes as the main bacteria responsible for acne for decades, but it was recently (technically) renamed C. acnes. This change was made to separate the bacteria that causes acne in human skin from the strains of “ P.” (Propionbacterium) acnes bacteria found in other species of animals, dairy products and more.
Your immune system reacts.
When acne bacteria multiply, they product byproducts that catches your immune system’s attention. The immune system then sends white blood cells to these areas to fight the “foreign bodies,” which causes the redness, swelling and inflammation associated with a pimple.
So now that you know how acne forms, it’s time to do something about it! Dr. King says, “Consistency is key for clear skin, and an easy-to-follow acne-fighting regimen helps target all the main factors that contribute to acne.” Among the most important arebenzoyl peroxide fight bacteria andsalicylic acid to help exfoliate dead skin cells—and kaolin clay can also help absorb excess oil. If you still need help figuring out which acne treatment products are best for you, take our simple quiz to find out.