Skin Care, Skin Care Problems

Pimples: Why do they happen?


The Saga of the Spot: A Comprehensive Exploration of Pimples

Pimples, those unwelcome bumps that take up residence on our faces (and sometimes other unfortunate locations), are a universal human experience. From the teenage angst of puberty to the occasional adult breakout, these pesky eruptions hold the power to dampen our confidence. But beyond the frustration, there’s a fascinating story to be told – a tale of hormones, skin biology, and the delicate balance that keeps our complexion clear.

The Sebaceous Saga: A Gland’s Journey from Friend to Foe

Pimples originate in the sebaceous glands, tiny oil factories embedded within our skin. These glands play a crucial role, producing sebum, a waxy, oily substance that serves a noble purpose:

  • Hydration: Sebum acts as a natural moisturizer, keeping our skin supple and preventing dryness.
  • Protection: It forms a barrier against environmental irritants and helps maintain healthy skin flora.

However, the sebaceous gland’s quest to keep us protected can sometimes go awry. Here’s where the trouble begins:

The Hormonal Havoc: Puberty’s Onslaught

During puberty, a surge of hormones, particularly androgens like testosterone, kicks things into overdrive. These hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands, leading to increased sebum production. While this prepares the skin for the changes of adolescence, it can also create the perfect environment for a pimple party.


There are several different types of pimples, and they have different signs and symptoms:

Whiteheads: Also known as a closed comedo, these are small pimples that remain under the skin. They appear as a small, flesh-colored papule.

Blackheads: Also known as an open comedo, these are clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are black or dark brown, due to the oxidation of melanin, the skin’s pigment.

Some people mistakenly believe they are caused by dirt, because of their color, and scrub their faces vigorously. Scrubbing does not help. It may irritate the skin and cause other problems.

Papules: These are small, solid, rounded bumps that rise from the skin. They are often pink.

Pustules: These are pimples full of pus. They are clearly visible on the surface of the skin. The base is red and the pus is on the top.

Nodules: These have a similar structure to papules, but they are larger. They can be painful and are embedded deep in the skin.

Cysts: These are clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are filled with pus and are usually painful. Cysts commonly cause scars.

Get Rid of Pimples Fast | Saguaro Dermatology

6 Ways to Get Rid of Pimples Fast


Considering that pimples are the most common skin complaint in the United States, we shouldn’t be surprised that they seem to pop up at the most inconvenient times: the day before that important job interview, right before a celebration you’ve been anticipating, or just in time for the family photo shoot. We’ve all been there! But while pimples are more complex than once thought, we don’t have to simply suffer through the red blotches until they go away by themselves. Here, we’ll look at how to get rid of pimples fast. But first…

1. Apply Ice to the Pimple:

Start by calming the pimple with ice. Wrap ice in a cloth and press it on the inflamed area for 3-4 minutes. If the ice melts too quickly, place a few cubes in a plastic sandwich bag before wrapping it in the cloth. Repeat this several times a day to soothe the skin and reduce swelling.

2. Apply a Paste of Crushed Aspirin to the Pimple:

Aspirin, containing salicylic acid, effectively removes excess oil and dead skin. Crush one or two aspirin tablets and mix them with a few drops of water to form a paste. Dab the paste directly onto the pimple. This will help reduce swelling, redness, and pain. Leave the paste on for 10-15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

3. Use An Over-the-Counter Acne Spot Treatment:

Choose products with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid helps reduce oil and remove dead skin cells, while benzoyl peroxide kills acne-causing bacteria. These ingredients work similarly but depend on your skin’s needs. Note that both can have a drying effect, so use only preparations with 0.5 to 2% salicylic acid and limit sun exposure when using benzoyl peroxide. Start slowly with new products and avoid overuse.

4. Use Makeup with Salicylic Acid to Conceal Pimples:

Don’t hide indoors due to pimples. Opt for makeup products with acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid. These products, such as foundations, face powders, and concealers, offer coverage while treating acne. Look for labels indicating noncomedogenic, hypoallergenic, and clinically tested products. Neutrogena, E.L.F., and Clinique offer formulations with these ingredients.

5. Apply a Face Mask for Acne:

Choose from various face masks targeting pimples with ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and sulfur. Sulfur, gentler than the other two, is suitable for sensitive skin. Look for masks labeled as exfoliating, anti-inflammatory, calming, hydrating, soothing, detoxifying, antioxidant, or antibacterial. Botanicals like tea tree oil or green tea, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, are often included to offset the drying effects of acne-fighting ingredients.

6. Get a Cortisone Injection to Quickly Get Rid of a Pimple:

For severe, inflamed pimples, a cortisone injection might be necessary. Administered by a dermatologist, this injection shrinks the swollen tissue, reducing inflammation and promoting healing. The procedure is quick, and you’ll see improvement within 24 hours.


Dealing with pimples can be distressing, but the immediate solutions outlined here can help in the short term. Remember, acne is a common issue, recently destigmatized through the acne positivity movement. For longer-term acne management and additional treatments, visit Phoenix’s Top Dermatologist at Saguaro Dermatology. We’re here to help!