A pimple is a kind of comedo resulting from excess sebum and dead skin cells getting trapped in the pores of the skin. In its aggravated state, it may evolve into a pustule or papules. Pimples can be treated by acne medications, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories prescribed by a physician, or various over the counter remedies purchased at a pharmacy.
Sebaceous glands inside the pore of the skin produce sebum. When the outer layers of skin shed (a natural and continuous process, normally), dead skin and oily sebum left behind may bond together and form a blockage of the sebaceous gland at the base of the skin. This is most common when the skin becomes thicker at puberty. The sebaceous gland continues to produce sebum, which builds up behind the blockage, allowing bacteria to grow in the area, including the species Staphylococcus aureus and Propionibacterium acnes, which causes inflammation and infection.
A regimen of keeping the affected skin area clean plus the regular application of these topical medications is usually enough to keep acne under control, if not at bay altogether. The most common product is a topical treatment of benzoyl peroxide, which has minimal risk apart from minor skin irritation that may present similar as a mild allergy. Recently nicotinamide (vitamin B3), applied topically, has been shown to be more effective in treatment of pimples than antibiotics such as clindamycin. Nicotinamide is not an antibiotic and has no side effects typically associated with antibiotics. It has the added advantage of reducing skin hyperpigmentation which results in pimple scars
Severe acne usually indicates the necessity of prescription medication to treat the pimples. Prescription medications used to treat acne and pimples include isotretinoin, which is a retinoid. Historically, antibiotics such as tetracyclines and erythromycin were prescribed. While they were more effective than topical applications of benzoyl peroxide, the bacteria eventually grew resistant to the antibiotics and the treatments became less and less effective. Also, antibiotics had more side effects than topical applications, such as stomach cramps and severe discoloration of teeth.