Zits are a common problem for adolescents, but they can affect people of all ages. Zits are also commonly known as pimples or acne.
Specific types of zits are called blackheads or whiteheads depending on the color that forms at the apex of the zit.
Zits can occur on any part of the body, but they tend to occur most often on the face and back.
Common Zit Symptoms
Most zits occur as small, red bumps in the skin. They may itch or be sensitive to the touch. As a zit progresses, it will grow larger and more pronounced. A white or black colored dot sometimes forms at the very top of the zit, hence the name whitehead or blackhead.
Once the head has fully formed, the zit may rupture and leak a small amount of clear liquid. Ruptured zits can form sores that bleed and cause scars. In advanced cases of acne, zits will grow in clusters that contain several zits in a compact area. Zit clusters are more likely to form scars and permanent discoloration of the affected area.
Normal Causes for Zits
Clogged Hair Follicles
Zit formation is caused by a clog in the base of the hair follicles underneath the skin. Generally the clog is made up of dead skin cells that have sloughed off naturally. When the follicle becomes clogged, inflammation builds up and creates a zit.
Bacteria that lives on the skin also helps with the formation of zits. Propionibacterium produce enzymes that convert the normal oils into an irritating substance that causes inflammation, which leads to pimples.
Androgens are hormones that can cause zits to form as well. People tend to experience a surge in androgens during their adolescence, which is why teenagers typically suffer from acne more often than older adults. These hormones increase the size of the skin’s pores and increase production of skin oils. As more oil is produced, the bacteria has more opportunities to create irritation.
There has been some indication that zits are caused by heredity as well. Research is currently being conducted to discover the link between genetics and zits.
Risk Factors for Zits
All adolescents are at risk for developing zits because of the increase in Androgens in their systems. Anyone going through puberty has a higher risk of developing acne, but the symptoms will generally disappear on their own once puberty is finished.
People who have naturally oily skin also have a tendency to develop zits more easily.
Emotions and Hormones
Some people may develop zits when they become overly stressed. Hormonal changes, such as a woman’s menstrual cycle, can also cause zits to form.
Tips for Zit Prevention
The most powerful method of reducing zit breakouts is preventing them in the first place. When the proper steps are taken to reduce the possibility of zits it is much easier to control them because there will be fewer zits to control.
People who suffer from chronic skin disorders that cause pimples may not have much opportunity to control their symptoms, but the general population will find that a little bit of prevention can go a long way toward a zit-free complexion.
Keep it Clean
The simplest way to reduce the number of zits that form is to wash the areas that are most prone to zit formation at least twice a day. Using a strong cleanser can help keep the hair follicles from becoming clogged, as well as clear away excess oils that can exacerbate clogged follicles.
Washing regularly also removes excess skin cells so that they will not build up in the hair follicles. It is not necessary to scrub the skin with force. A gentle application of soap and water will be effective.
Keep Hands Away from Face
Hands contain oil, which can be transferred to the face easily by regular contact. Resting the chin or cheek on the hands can cause substances to be pressed into the hair follicles more directly, which can lead to zit formation.
Try to avoid elongated periods of high stress. Stress can deteriorate health very quickly, causing symptoms that include outbreaks of zits.
Avoid junk food as much as possible. Oily foods can create conditions that are ideal for the formation of zits.
Long hair contains natural oils that can collect dust and other particles from the air. As a person moves, the oils and particles in the hair can rub on to the skin and create pimples.
Individuals who suffer from extreme zits may choose to cut their hair so that it doesn’t have an opportunity to come into contact with their skin.
Drink Plenty of Water
At least 8 glasses of water are recommended to maintain skin health. The water helps flush toxins from the body’s system and keeps skin moisturized.
Avoid Oil-based Cosmetics
Wearing an oil-based product on your face for 8 hours every day will only serve to create more zits instead of help to get rid of them. Wear water based makeup when necessary. If possible, avoid wearing makeup at all if you are prone to zit breakouts.
How Zits are Diagnosed
Zits can be easily recognized by their appearance and life cycle. Normal zits will be visible for a week to ten days on average. Some acne requires assistance from a dermatologist, however.
Symptoms that indicate the need to visit a doctor include
- Zits that do not diminish over a natural course of time
- Zits that are extremely painful and cause visible scarring
- Sudden cases of zits that are accompanied by fever or illness
Women who begin to develop facial hair near zit outbreaks, or notice a substantial change in their menstrual cycles should see a specialist to determine the underlying cause of these symptoms.
Depending on their severity, zits can usually be managed through home remedies very comfortably.
Organic treatments are the safest and least invasive way to handle acne without using harsh chemicals.
Most of these options involve fresh food products that most people keep in their pantries on a regular basis. Each of these remedies takes advantage of the natural properties of the foods and how they interact with a person’s skin.
Once a week apply natural honey to areas that are prone to acne development. The antibacterial nature of honey will clear the harmful bacteria from the skin, as well as provide a healthy way to clear away blemishes.
Yogurt and Oatmeal
Mix fine oatmeal into an unflavored yogurt. Apply thoroughly to the face and allow to dry. Wash away with mild soap and warm water. Yogurt contains natural antibacterial elements that reduce the amount of bacteria on the face.
There are several natural zit treatments that include lime juice. Ointments can be made by mixing lime juice with groundnuts, lime juice with boiled milk, or applying straight lime juice directly to zits. Lime juice is also effective when mixed with rose water or powdered pomegranate skins. The acidic nature of lime juice counteracts the oil that can lead to zit formation.
Fresh mint juice is a natural way to dry the oils from the face. Mint can be ground into a paste and mixed with other elements, like milk, and then applied directly to areas where zits are already forming. The mint will reduce the inflammation by drawing the moisture away from the zit as it forms.
Ripened tomatoes contain similar acids as lime juice. Tomato paste can be applied directly to existing pimples to make them go away faster.
Vitamins and Herbal Remedies
Several vitamins and herbal treatments can help control stubborn zit breakouts. Herbal methods will not control acne symptoms forever, but they do work well with other preventative measures to reduce the number of breakouts and provide a better chance of maintaining a clear complexion.
Some of the most effective vitamins for controlling acne include
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
Herbal remedies that are the most effective include ointments that have the following natural ingredients
- Orange Peel
- Mint Juice
- Epsom Salts
- Tea Tree Oil
- German Chamomile
- Licorice Root
- Witch Hazel
- Flaxseed Oil
Most of these treatments are meant to be applied directly to existing outbreaks of zits. Some herbal remedies, such as epsom salts and witch hazel extract, work best when used as a steam or soaking bath. The thing that all of these herbal remedies have in common is that they reduce the amount of oil in the skin, which reduces the possibility of clogged follicles that lead to zits.
When using herbal remedies, it is important to remember that they are the most effective when they restore a balance to your body’s system. Zits can be an indication of other internal problems that can be helped through the use of herbs in the proper amounts. If herbal remedies are not effective in treating acne and it continues to flare up, it is a good idea to visit a dermatologist to find out if there are pharmaceutical methods that may be more helpful in eradicating zit problems.
Over the Counter Zit Medications
Most of the over the counter medications that are designed to reduce the occurrence of zits contain Benzoyl Peroxide as their main ingredient. The peroxide penetrates deep into the skin and dries out infected and swollen hair follicles to arrest the development of zits. Peroxide also kills any bacteria that is present, which protects the skin from further irritation.
There are several well-known brands of over the counter zit medication that provide a good amount of relief from zit symptoms
- Persa Gel
- Oxy Night Watch
These brand name products come in different strengths and can offer specific relief from different types of acne. Clearasil, for example, offers treatments that focus on adult acne as well as adolescent zit problems. Most over the counter creams and cleansing pads can be used once daily for the best results. They are designed to be used after the face has been washed thoroughly with normal soap and water.
Prescription Zit Medications
Some people suffer from chronic acne that resists home remedies and over the counter treatments. In extreme cases, it can be necessary to consult a dermatologist for more powerful pharmaceutical options. There are several different prescription medications that can be used to treat chronic acne. The effectiveness of each type of medication depends on the chemical makeup of each patient’s skin and the severity of the zits that are being treated.
Here is a short list of some prescription medications that are available through a dermatologist
- Benzac AC
This list is by no means comprehensive. It is just a small sample of the many different prescription medications that are available to treat chronic and severe acne problems.
Many doctors will prescribe birth control pills to girls and women who suffer from acne because the extra estrogen that they provide seems to have a positive effect on clearing the skin. Girls seem to have an easier time with zits because excess estrogen blocks the androgen hormones that increase the production of zits. Using birth control pills to increase the estrogen is an option that is only available to girls who suffer from severe zit breakouts.
Side Effects of Prescription Medication
Prescription medications can have some side effects which are important to note. The most common problems that patients report are crusting and blistering of the treatment area, staining of the teeth, and allergic reactions. Any unusual symptoms that seem to result from using a zit medication should be reported to a doctor immediately to avoid any further complications. Side effects from most zit prescriptions are very rare. Most patients experience an improvement in the clarity of their skin without any other health problems becoming evident.