What do whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and cysts all have in common? They're all types of acne. Your skin's pores sometimes get clogged up with oil, dead skin cells, and germs (bacteria). When a pore clogs up, closes, and bulges out from the skin, it's called a whitehead. When a pore clogs up but stays open, the top surface usually gets dark and you have a blackhead. At other times, the walls of the pore break, allowing oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria to get under your skin. The causes a small red infected bump called a pimple. When a pore clogs up and the infection goes deeper and fills with puss, it's called a cyst.
That's a lot to remember! But don't worry. Just remember that if either of your parents had acne, chances are very good that you will, too. Don't feel alone. Almost everyone has acne of some kind by the time they become an adult. The good news is that most acne goes away about the time you turn 20 years old. Still, it's not easy to look at yourself in the mirror and see a big fat pimple on your nose!
Here are some things you can do to keep acne breakouts to a minimum.
1. Wash your face twice a day with soap and warm water.
2. Don't scrub your face. Wash gently, using your fingertips instead of a washcloth.
3. If you wear sunscreen on your face, make sure it's labeled "nonacnegenic" or "noncomedogenic."
4. Wash your face after you've been exercising and sweating a lot.
5. Don't touch, squeeze, or pop pimples. The oil and dirt from your hands will just make things worse.
6. Try some of the acne lotions and creams from your drugstore to see if they help. The ones that contain benzyl peroxide (kills bacteria) are usually the best.
7. If your acne is more serious, a family doctor or dermatologist (skin doctor) can prescribe stronger creams and lotions.