Pimples are an unwelcome visitor to many of us and often just accepted as a part of everyday life. But what causes a pimple?
Short answer: a pimple is caused by a pore in your skin being blocked. That’s it. They aren’t dirty, and they aren’t just caused by eating too much chocolate.
The blockage is usually naturally occurring oil, dead skin, and dirt that accumulates on the skin. Check out What’s in a pimple? for all the details.
But that’s not a particularly useful answer if you are trying to minimise your breakouts. So here’s the longer answer to what causes a pimple.
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Stress: not great for you or your skin
Pimples are one of the most common forms in which stress manifests. Both physical, as well as mental stress, lead to the release of a stress hormone called cortisol. When the level of this hormone elevates it can become visible on our skin in the form of pimples.
Avoiding stress isn’t all that simple in modern life. But you can definitely try to minimise your stress and the toll it takes on your body. Exercise, getting enough sleep, getting out into nature, spending time on hobbies and with friends, and meditation can all help.
Climate: how the weather affects your skin
Climate is one of those many external factors which lead to breakouts in your skin. The change of environment – humidity, weather or even water (minerals, fluoride or other elements) – can take a toll on your skin. The skin reacts to these changes by the sudden breakouts of pimples.
Shielding your skin from the harshness of climate is the best way to avoid such pimples. When it’s dry or cold you should be using moisturiser. Although pimples are the result of oils it’s actually unhelpful to try keeping the skin too dry. If it is drier than normal the skin will go into overdrive to produce even more oil.
A bit of sunshine and vitamin D can be helpful for acne – but getting sunburnt definitely isn’t. Use sunscreen – even in the winter if you are prone to getting burned. Sun damage ages the skin and can be dangerous.
At sweaty times of year you need to wash your face regularly and drink plenty of water to keep your hydration up.
Food habits: not necessarily what causes a pimple
Acne and pimples aren’t just the result of your diet. You can’t assume that someone with acne eats lots of chocolate, or oily foods for example.
There are ways your food habits can impact your skin though.
Food can cause hormonal changes in our bodies. This is why we crave certain foods, and the body responds to sugar, for example, in certain ways. And pimples are massively affected by hormones – which is why they start and tend to be most common in teenagers.
Certain fruits and vegetables provide great vitamins and minerals that benefit your skin so if you want to make pimple-motivated changes to your diet look at your vitamins and minerals.
The biggest boost for your skin and the fight against pimples will be in increasing your hydration. Most of us don’t drink the recommended eight glasses of water a day. Doing that could be the biggest difference you can make.
Use of cosmetics: what hides a pimple might be what causes a pimple
It’s a bit of a paradox but the make-up we use to hide our pimples probably makes them worse. Make-up coats and clogs the skin, upsets natural balances of oils, and can cause pimples.
The solution is to look for lighter, non-oily formulas. There are plenty of brands and types of make-up that are suitable for sensitive skin and won’t aggravate pimples.
Whatever make-up you choose you have to clean it off thoroughly at the end of the day.
Not only will these tips on avoiding what causes a pimple help to reduce your pimples, you should feel better in general!