If Your Pimples Could Talk This Is What They Would Say

Got a pimple? Before you pop, STOP. Here's what you should do instead.

Resisting the urge to pop, pick, poke and generally pester a pimple is tough. Sticking-to-a-diet-at-a-buffet tough.

Whether it's ripe and ready or buried deep under the skin, all you want to do is zap it, and fast.

Before you go in all guns blazing on your poor defenceless face, pause for a second. Stop before you pop, if you will.

Pimples -- called 'acne' in the medical world -- are complex beasts. There's more than one type, even though they're all pretty nasty.

Understanding what category your little pimple friend falls into can help you kick him to the curb faster, more effectively and with minimal scarring.

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Because yes, squeezing those suckers can leave a scar -- or cause a secondary infection -- once the initial spot clears.

To get the 411 on spotting spots, treating them and even preventing them in the future we chatted with a Canberra-based dermatologist and skin surgeon Dr Leona Yip.

Name that spot

When you're in the midst of a breakout it can seem like there's no end to the different types of pimples making a cosy home on your face.

According to Dr Yip, however, acne comes in just three main varieties and is classified based on what it looks like and how deep it is.

  • Papulopustular acne -- Appears as red spots and pustules.
  • Nodulocystic acne -- Appears as big and deep, often painful cysts.
  • Comedonal acne -- Appears as whiteheads and blackheads.

It's important to note that it's rare to have just one type.

"Most people who suffer from acne tend to have all the three types, but one type may dominate more than the others," Dr Yip told 10 daily.

Scarring can result from any of these three if the acne is severe and untreated.

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Searching for a cause

Genes -- Dr Yip told us that acne tends to be genetic, so you can thank your mum and dad for your breakouts.

Diet and medication -- Your influx of pimples may be linked to a raft of external factors as well. A diet packed with high glycaemic index foods -- potatoes, white bread and short-grain rice, all that good stuff -- can be a recipe for a breakout.

Dr Yip also flagged protein shakes and anabolic steroids -- which are illegal without a prescription in Australia -- as triggers.

Certain medications like higher androgenic contraceptive pills may also cause acne, but as always it's important to chat with your doctor about what the best option would be for your instead of self-diagnosing.

Stress -- According to Dr Yip the link between stress and acne is a tricky one to make, even though your face seems to go out in sympathy when the rest of your life is falling apart. 

"The influence of stress on acne is controversial, though many people claim that stress aggravates their acne," Dr Yip said.

Hormones -- Paying attention to where on your face the acne is concentrated can indicate the cause. Acne that's influenced by hormones -- called 'hormonal acne' -- tends to affect the lower face and the chin area.

Hormonal acne is usually spotty aka Papulopustular, or cystic aka Nodulocystic, Dr Yip said.

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In treatment

Different types of acne respond to different types of treatment, so a one-size-fits-all approach might not be the best to zap those zits. 

In cases where prescription treatment is required, Dr Yip explained, the specific type of acne doesn’t matter as much as the severity and extent.

Whiteheads and blackhead-type acne -- Stick to products that contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or Vitamin A-based ingredients like retinol to begin with.

If there is a lack of improvement, prescription Vitamin-A based treatments may be needed.

Papulopustular and cystic acne -- These almost always need prescription treatment with antibiotics, hormonally-based treatments, topical or oral Vitamin-A based treatments.

Nodulocystic acne -- these tough, tricky cases always need specialist treatment using Isotretinoin -- "the gold standard treatment for nodulocystic acne" -- due to the high risk of scarring.

Dr Yip explained that GPs tend to in the first instance, prescribe antibiotics to take care of inflammation and a topical Vitamin A-based treatment while the patient waits to see their dermatologist for Isotretinoin -- marketed under many brand names including Accutane and Roaccutane.

Isolated painful cysts are sometimes injected with steroids by a dermatologist to ease the discomfort, but Dr Yip warned that acne nodules and cysts should not be surgically removed.

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Your acne action plan

Dr Yip's hot tips for nixing zits.

  • Don’t pick your acne spots because this may cause scarring and secondary infection.
  • Don’t forget to cleanse and moisturise daily even if you have greasy skin.
  • Always remove makeup before bed and use make-up that is “non-comedogenic”.
  • Ask your dermatologist for skincare recommendations when you start prescription treatment for acne, as some skincare products will not be suitable for use during treatment

Feature Image: Getty.