Is There A Pimple Cure?

Is There A Pimple Cure?

Whether it’s the the first day of school,
a big interview or your wedding day – pimples find a way of cropping up at the most inconvenient
times. But why do they occur and how do we get rid of them? The term “pore”, it is just another way
of saying “hair follicle”, and your body is covered in them. Within the follicle is
a gland that produces an oily substance called sebum, which empties onto the skin to keep
your hair and body moisturized. But if the hair follicle becomes clogged with dead skin
cells and oils, a blockage is created. Sebum continues to be produced but it is trapped
within the follicle making it become enlarged. And this is where bacteria come into play,
feeding on the dead skin and sebum which can unfortunately lead to infection. Your immune
system responds by sending blood to the area, giving the appearance of redness and inflammation,
and white blood cells come to the site too, to clear up the infection. When the white
blood cells die, they, combined with the dead skin and sebum, create the pus filled pimple. If the blockage occurs under the skin it creates
a white bump known as a “whitehead” and if the blockage is above the skin and black
discolouration occurs it’s known as a “blackhead”. This is a result of melanin in the dead skin
cells reacting with oxygen creating a black colour – it’s not dirt. We get the most pimples when we are teens
due to the increased amount of androgen hormones like testosterone in our bodies at the onset
of puberty. Testosterone sends the production of sebum into overdrive, increasing the incidence
of blockages. But zits can occur at any time – often brought on by stressful events. Cortisol,
the stress hormone, increases the amount of inflammation in your body (aka more red bumps
on your face) and can also suppress your immune system, meaning your body can’t fight the
bacteria that is causing the acne. So how do we fight the war on pimples? For
normal breakouts, cleaning your face to remove excess oil which prevents pore blockage and
occasionally exfoliating to remove dead skin will help, although acne often cannot be solved
this way. And it’s important to remember that cleanliness and diet do not play a major
role in acne, but rather your genetics and hormones. Many drugs exist like benzoyl peroxide
which kills specific acne causing bacteria, salicylic acid which helps to remove dead
skin blockages, retinoids which reduce sebum production and a variety of others; though
some drugs can have severe side effects. In women, some success has been seen with oral
contraceptives, which decrease the ovaries production of androgen hormones, ultimately
decreases sebum. Of course, consulting with a doctor over which regimen is best suited
to you is always best. But new therapies and cures may be on the
horizon with the help of science! By studying individuals who do not get acne, scientists
noticed something: the bacteria that typically causes acne still exists on their skin, but
it’s a different strain. It turns out that this same bacteria with slightly different
genes causes healthier skin. Knowing this, future therapies may include a deeper look
at the bacterial level, and whether or not altering your skin microbiota could cure pimples. We’re really glad to be working in collaboration
with Bill and Melinda Gates in supporting their Annual Letter this year called “Two
superpowers we wish we had”! Every year they release a letter looking at global issues,
and this year the question is: what would your superpower for good be? Would it be to
have more clean energy like Bill or more time like Melinda, which means one thing in rich
countries and something else to the world’s poorest families. It’s a chance to enact
positive change in the world – so find something you’re passionate about and learn more about
it. Check out the letter with the link in the description, and we’ll be posting our
superpower ideas on instagram with #superpowerforgood.


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