What causes pimples?

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Your face is a battleground. For every wrinkle and pore, there’s an army of cells fighting to keep things under control. But sometimes those cells get overwhelmed, and things can go awry in the most unfortunate way possible: pimples pop up. Pimples are red bumps on the skin that can turn into whiteheads or blackheads if they aren’t addressed quickly enough or if you try to push them out yourself (don’t do this!). If you’ve ever asked “What causes pimples?” then read on for some answers about how these nasty little critters happen and how you can stop them from popping up again.

Bacteria and oil

Bacteria and oil (sebum) are a major cause of acne.

  • Examples of bacteria that may cause pimples:
  • Staphylococcus aureus (a type of staph bacteria) can cause pimples when it enters your skin and clogs pores. This often happens if you have an open wound or scratch on your face, but it can also happen if you use a lot of makeup or wear tight clothes around the neck area.
  • How to prevent bacterial causes: Wash your hands often with soap and water before touching your face, especially after coming into contact with other people who might have germs on their hands; wash towels used around the neck area often too; avoid touching open wounds, scabs or rashes on the face; don’t share personal items such as makeup brushes, combs etc.; try not to touch your face while washing dishes or eating messy foods like spaghetti bolognese – this way any food particles won’t get trapped between fingers then transferred into pores where they can breed bacteria!

Dead skin cells

One of the main causes of pimples is dead skin cells clogging pores. This can lead to bacteria and inflammatory conditions, like acne. Use a gentle cleanser or exfoliator to remove these dead cells so they don’t get trapped inside your pores.

Clogged pores

When your pores become clogged with the dead skin cells, oil and bacteria that naturally reside on your skin, it can lead to pimples. A healthy diet is one of the best ways to keep your pores clean so you don’t get pimples, but there are other steps you can take to prevent clogged pores as well.

In addition to a healthy diet, you should also:

  • Use an over-the-counter topical medication like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid
  • Use sunscreen every day (when possible) even if it’s cloudy outside; ultraviolet rays penetrate clouds and glass windows enough that they can cause damage no matter what the weather forecast says
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your face—this can dislodge dirt and oil from under your skin which then clogs pores upon contact


Hormonal changes are another common cause of acne. The hormones that affect your skin are called androgens, which include testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Androgens make your oil glands produce more sebum.

In puberty, the surge in androgen levels can cause pimples in both boys and girls as their bodies begin to develop adult features. Pimples on a girl’s face may be referred to as “acne vulgaris” or “acne vulgaris rubra pilaris” (AVRPD), while pimples on boys are referred to as “acne vulgaris papulopustulosa faciei” (APPF).

Many women experience hormonal changes associated with pregnancy that cause their skin to produce excess oil, leading them to develop blemishes. Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can also trigger breakouts in some post-menopausal women.


If you’re taking a medication that may be causing your acne, talk to your doctor about switching medications.

If you stop taking the medication, your skin may clear up and heal. However, this process can take time (which might make you feel impatient or discouraged).

Keeping your face clean is a great way to prevent pimples.

  • Wash your face twice a day. Wash it in the morning and at night, with a gentle cleanser that won’t irritate your skin.
  • Avoid harsh soaps. Your skin is soft and delicate; don’t put anything on it that can dry it out or cause more irritation than necessary. Instead, look for something mild and moisturizing—the gentler you are with your skin, the better!
  • Use a moisturizer after washing your face (and always before bed). This will keep moisture in your pores, preventing pimples from forming as easily as possible!


We hope that we have been able to help you understand how pimples form and what can cause them. If you are still having problems with acne, be sure to talk with your doctor about it!

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