when it comes to your skin, is there a nastier word than "pimple"?
Sure, "zit" comes close, and "sebaceous gland" is no beauty, but there's something about the P-word that sends a shudder through anyone who values her skin. As we all know, pimples are raised, reddened swellings on your skin, and they're usually caused when bacteria and dead skin cells get under skin surface and cause it to become infected. They're often filled with pus, and are a form of acne, an inflammation of the sebaceous (oil) glands in your skin. Pimples that form on clogged pores and fill with pus are usually called whiteheads, and there are other common forms of acne too: blackheads (dirty, clogged pores) and cysts. Although pimples can occur almost anywhere on your body, they're most common on the face, neck, shoulders, chest and back.
You don't have to be ato get zits, though the hormones raging in your body during adolescence certainly contribute to their formation. Later in life, they're generally an indication that your skin is too oily, and that you're not cleaning it well enough. In some of us, acne can be come a chronic skin disease if not immediately nipped in the bud. The number one, most important thing to know about pimples is this: if you notice a pimple or similar acne-related infection, don't pick, rub, or pop it; this can lead to both infection and permanent scarring, which can be pretty hideous. If you've ever gotten a good look at a picture of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, you can see the full effects of poor acne management. They don't call him Old Pineapple Face for nothing.
Basically, you shouldn't mess with the pimple directly, except maybe to put some acne medication on it. Of the available zit-zapping meds (which are of course aimed at teens), all most of them do is dry out the layer of skin above the pimple. Of these, benzol peroxide works best. There may come an occasion when there's an emergency, however, and neither time nor over-the-counter medication is sufficient. If that's the case, try using an oil-free antibacterial concealer to cover the blemish. If, however, you're really desperate -- for example, you're about to open on Broadway and you need to get that glaring zit off your forehead right away -- then check with a dermatologist to see if you can get a cortisone shot. But take care, because this is not a choice made lightly. While the shot may save your stage career, cortisone is a steroid, and one shot can throw off your menstrual period for months.
Pimples should be a clarion call that you're not doing something right with your daily skin cleansing routine. Either you're skimping, or something isn't working effectively. You should always wash your face at least twice daily; soap and water is fine for a casual washing, but deep cleansing requires a special skin cleanser formulated for your skin type (oily, dry, or normal), followed by a toner and a moisturizer, in that order. A weekly beauty mask and an occasional exfoliation are also recommended, in order to remove dead skin cells, oils, and other grime that isn't immediately obvious to the eyes. If you're doing all these things, yet you still suffer regular breakouts, you may be doing something wrong; for example, you may have oilier skin than you thought. Try using a mildly exfoliating cleanser, if you aren't already, and experiment with various cleansing products.
If all else fails, try washing your face more often. You may need to try twice-daily deep cleansings, morning and night, to get the best response from your skin, and it wouldn't hurt to splash a little water on your face in between. Of course, you can always overdo this if you're not careful. If your skin starts to feel too dry, try using a good, non-oily moisturizer to hydrate your skin properly. You should also be sure to drink at least two quarts of water a day, to ensure proper hydration from the inside. As far as junk food goes, there's never been any real link established between bad skin and stuff like chocolate, fried foods, milk, and too much sugar. However, one of the most important factors in maintaining good skin is to keep yourself healthy, and it goes without saying that too much rich food will negatively impact your health. It would be a good idea to maintain a healthy diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, and lean meats if you want to avoid skin problems.
Whatever you do to get rid of pimples and their ilk, you'll need to be patient. It can take as long as a month for a pimple to disappear -- longer it you mess with it. If you absolutely can't leave it alone, make sure you wash your hands first, squeeze the pimple with a cotton swab or a piece of tissue, and clean the area very thoroughly when you're done. If it doesn't pop, leave it for another day.