What Are Blemishes?
You may have noticed a mark, spot, discolouration or imperfection on your skin. Any of these can be termed as a blemish.
There are some types of marks that you hardly notice or bother about, while there are some that mar your appearance and make you feel self-conscious. Although blemishes on the skin are usually harmless, some could grow to be indicative of skin cancer and eventually become life-threatening.
If you notice any unsightly marks on your skin, do visit a dermatologist. A skin specialist can guide you on whether or not you should seek treatment for a particular type of blemish.
What Are The Different Types Of Blemishes?
Acne is the most common skin condition affecting people all over the world. Hormonal changes (especially during puberty) or stress can trigger an overproduction of sebum (natural oil). When this excess sebum along with bacteria, dead skin and dirt clogs the pores in your skin, it can lead to:
Acne that heals imperfectly can sometimes leave behind scars, dark spots or pockmarks which are also types of blemishes.
A deep wound or a popped pimple can damage the dermis layer of the skin, where the hair follicles, sweat glands, small blood vessels and nerve endings are located. The skin tries to repair this damaged tissue by synthesizing new collagen. However, if there is an overproduction or underproduction of collagen, it can lead to imperfect healing or the appearance of scars.
Papules are small skin lesions, appearing individually or in clusters. They’re typically around 1 centimetre in diameter and can vary from pink to brown in colour. Examples are:
- Chickenpox Rashes
Nodules are a collection of tissue, usually firm to the touch. They are typically 1 to 2 centimetres in diameter and range in colour from flesh-toned to red. Examples are:
- Skin Tags
Pustules are bumps filled with fluid or pus. Examples include:
- Chickenpox blisters
- Scabies blisters
- Rosacea blisters
- Cold Sores
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). These itchy, painful, fluid-filled blisters are found on or near the mouth. Once the blisters burst and drain, you will notice a red or yellow scab until it fully heals.
Cysts are round, benign (non-carcinogenic) sacs that are often filled with fluid. They may be visible as bumps of different sizes on or underneath the skin. Examples include:
- Epidermoid Cysts
- Ganglion Cysts
- Sebaceous Cysts
- Ingrown Hair
Hair that curls back and grows inside the skin is known as ingrown hair. It is often a result of hair removal techniques like tweezing, waxing or shaving. Ingrown hair is more common in people with curly hair than in those with straight hair. The ingrowth can cause red bumps on the skin where the hair should have grown out. These bumps can also become large, painful, fluid-filled cysts that are either red, yellow or white in colour.
Birthmarks range in appearance, size, shape and colour. They typically arise at birth or shortly afterward, and can last for life or fade over time. Commonly seen birthmarks include:
- Port-Wine Stains
- Salmon Patches
An overproduction of melanin can result in an uneven skin tone or dark patches. Hyperpigmentation is caused by:
- Sun exposure
- Acne scarring
- Hormonal changes (such as during pregnancy)
- Age Spots (Liver Spots)
Age spots are a type of hyperpigmentation. These small, dark spots can show up on any part of the body that’s been exposed to the sun and mostly appears in people over the age of 50. However, younger people can also be affected.
Melasma is identified by brown patches that can arise due to sun exposure and hormonal changes, such as those commonly experienced during pregnancy.
- Skin Cancer
If you ever notice irregular, dark moles, strange yellow scabs or weird red bumps, visit a dermatologist. For all you know, it could be harmless. But it’s best to not take that risk and let the doctor identify if a blemish is actually skin cancer. This is because most skin cancers vary in appearance and colour. Some of the types of skin cancers include:
- Basal Cell Carcinoma
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma
- Malignant Melanoma
How To Treat Different Types Of Blemishes?
Home remedies and medical treatments can reduce and prevent the occurrence of blemishes. Your dermatologist will recommend a medication based on the type and cause of the blemish.
- Natural Remedies
You can soothe and treat minor blemishes using natural home remedies like:
- Witch Hazel
- Aloe Vera
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Healthy Skin Care Routine
Cleansing your face, body and hair regularly can help get rid of excess oil, dirt, pollutants and bacteria. Daily care and hygiene are vital for healthy, clear skin.
- Clean Diet
Often, the food you eat may be the culprit behind an acne breakout, allergic reaction or skin inflammation. Pay attention to what you put on your plate and try to cut out processed and highly allergenic items. Include foods that are rich in vitamins C and E to keep your skin clear and glowing.
- Acne Solutions
OTC products like anti-acne facial cleansers, scrubs, astringents and topical gels can help treat pimples, whiteheads and blackheads. If you find that OTC solutions are not working, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics or topical medication.
- Salicylic Acid
Facial cleansers, scrubs or gels containing salicylic acid can slough away excess oil, dirt and dead skin and help clear blocked pores.
- Hydrocortisone Cream
Topical creams can prevent and treat allergic reactions and inflammation caused by ingrown hair. It’s advisable to put a hold on hair removal techniques while you’re treating ingrown hair.
- Sun Protection
Broad-spectrum sunscreen, sun-protective clothing and sun-protective gear like sunglasses, hats and caps can shield your skin and eyes from the damaging effects of the sun’s UVA/UVB radiation.
- Creams For Hyperpigmentation
Your dermatologist may prescribe topical creams with hydroquinone, which is known to slow down the production of melanin and help lighten age spots, acne scars and melasma.
- Procedures For Hyperpigmentation
Dermatological procedures that can help fade age spots include:
- Laser Therapy
- Chemical Peels
When Should I Visit A Dermatologist?
Some blemishes may heal or disappear on their own, while some may become a recurring, chronic condition. Blemishes can also be a sign of skin cancer if they show changes in size or colour, begin bleeding or have irregular borders.
If you think that you may have any of the types of blemishes mentioned above, consult your dermatologist at once. Your doctor will recommend OTC or prescription anti-acne solutions to prevent and treat acne. Blemishes caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses can be treated with the right medication as well.
For more information, you can take a look at our wide range of articles on skin care and skin health.