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Our skin has pores that are connected to glands that produce sebum (an oily liquid) via follicles. Sebum helps carry dead skin cells to the surface of the skin (through the follicles too). Think of the process as transporting goods from one place to another through a tunnel. What happens when the tunnel gets blocked? A traffic jam happens!

Similarly, when the follicles are blocked, sebum accumulates under the skin, forming a plug. This plug gets infected by bacteria (that feeds on sebum), and as our immune system tries to fight the infection, the response is the appearance of a red bump – which is also known as a pimple.

Watch this video for an illustration of how the process is like:

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How to prevent pimples from appearing?

Now that you understand how pimples are formed, you can methodically try to prevent them from appearing. These are some general tips:


  • Exfoliate regularly: Exfoliating your skin with a gentle scrub at least once a week helps remove the layer of dead skin cells that accumulate on the surface of your skin. These dead skin cells are often the cause of clogging of pores (which leads to pimples), so removing them regularly will make sure oil plugs don’t form.
  • Keep sebum under control: Over-production of sebum can be due to hormonal changes or stress. Find out what might be the cause and keep it in check. Using products that help mattify skin also helps keep sebum (and pimples) at bay.
  • Hygiene is key: Don’t give bacteria a chance to infest by making sure that your skin is thoroughly cleansed. Also, avoid touching your face with your hands, and keep spectacles, mobile phones (and other things that may come in touch with your face) clean. Consider cleaning them regularly with an alcohol wipe.
  • Moisturise your skin: Sebum is produced to keep the skin lubricated. Making sure your skin is well-hydrated will prevent your skin to produce sebum in order to lubricate your skin.
  • Seek professional help: If pimples are a pesky concern, and you’ve not been able to get rid of it no matter what you do, consider seeking help from a dermatologist, who will be able to find out your problem’s cause and give you a targeted solution.
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