The pimple problem


By Hiya Islam

sciencePimples, they break out anytime, anywhere. Almost never failing to coincide with dates and parties, pimples are an absolute dread for you and me. There are days when bit by bit your cheeks turn red and swell in pain. At times, the forehead and chin too fall under this brutality. Once it pops up, there’s little you can do. Or can you?

Pimples form due to excess oil and defy any age limit, but they commonly appear on teens. Sebaceous glands connected to hair follicles underneath the pores secrete this oil or sebum. Sebum is made up of varied lipids like cholesterol, esters, squalene and glycerides. The exact percentage of its constituents depends on age. It serves to moisturise and protect the skin. When a surplus of sebum fills the follicle, dead skin cells and bacteria accumulate and clog the pore. The bacteria here multiply and give rise to an infection. The chemicals, its ongoing metabolism release, alert the immune system. The body sends a legion of leukocytes or white blood cells to fight the pathogens. This ultimately results in the unsightly, thick, whitish-yellow fluid, pus, to appear.

Given some time, the infection cures on its own. As it heals, a scab is left behind. The dead cells in the scab gradually dissolve and leave the pimple scar or ‘post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation’. This too goes away on its own owing to the natural shedding process. However, dermatologists confirm it is safe to drain out the pus. When you are experiencing the signs of an incoming zit, welcome it. Embrace it for a day or two. When the ripe whitehead finally appears, pop it. Wash your hands thoroughly before gently squeezing out the infected area. A disinfected pin can also be used. But, exercise extreme caution while doing this. Use the pointed object to carefully burst the white sac. Poking deep into skin or digging the zit will damage inner skin layers increasing the chances of a pockmark! It can further spread the bacteria. If dwelling in uncertainty, it’s best to let nature take hold of things.

The trouble starts with too much sebum in the first place. There are many factors affecting the levels of secretion. Hormonal imbalances during puberty and menstruation excite the activity of sebaceous glands. Also, as poorly-moisturised skin suffers from dryness, oil production is stimulated. Then again, stress, a guilty culprit accountable for many other nuisances in the body plays an active role in breakouts. While all these factors can be controlled, genes you inherit might seal your fate; genes that cause over activity of the glands. To prevent clogged pores, frequent washing of face, drinking sufficient water and taking off makeup before sleep are suggested. Facemasks deeply cleanse these pores and take off the dirt from everyday pollution.

So, it turns out that all these days we’ve been carrying around tiny balls of infection. Acne usually vanishes as we age. Would you rather live as a teen with acne or an aging person with no acne for the rest of your life? However, if this condition worsens with time, an appointment with a skin specialist is more of a wise choice.  All in all, a well-rounded skin care regime is guaranteed to bring out a fresh, clear skin.


Hiya Islam is a student of BRAC University.




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