Acne and other skin issues can be hard to deal with, especially when you are young and anxious about your looks. Acne is a common skin disease manifested in lesions or pimples that are formed when tiny hair follicles under your skin become clogged; and guess what -- nobody really knows the exact reason why this happens.
Pimples can vary in shape, size and, believe it or not, the solidity of their core. Lesions with a solid core are some of the most common types of acne, and no matter how harmless they might seem, they can be pretty irritating--both literally and figuratively!
What is That Hard Stuff That Comes Out After you Pop a Pimple?
When you pop a pimple, what comes out is usually some kind of white or yellowish discharge, which is basically a mixture of excess sebum (oil naturally produced by your skin) and dead skin cells.
All of that is made worse by bacteria that makes this entire gooey pocket inflamed and painful, which is what made you want to pop that pimple in the first place. This discharge can also become hard when the sebum solidifies.
Comedones are tiny bumps that can be skin-colored, white, or dark, and they make the skin rougher in texture. Unlike cysts or nodules, comedones are pretty "shallow" and can be seen near pore openings. In the middle of these small bumps is a solid core that can be either black or white.
Blackheads With a Hard Core
Blackheads are open at the surface of the skin and, as the name implies, have black cores or heads. As sebum and dead skin accumulate inside the pore, it becomes wider and a blackhead forms .
Many people believe this hard black speck to be dirt, which is not correct. What actually happens is that the tip of the lesion darkens as it oxidizes i.e., reacts with the oxygen in the air.
Whiteheads With a Hard Core
Unlike blackheads, whiteheads are closed comedones. This means that there is no opening at the surface of the skin and thus no chemical reaction between the air and the pore content. In other words, the buildup remains sealed underneath the skin, forming a hard white bump.
A Pimple With Hard White Pus
In some cases, comedones can become inflamed. When this happens, that type of hard lesion is called a papule. Since papules are hard they don't really contain pus, since pus is a liquid (these types of pimples are pustules). Confusing nomenclature aside, papules look are essentially small pinkish bumps that can be sensitive to the touch.
Is a Pimple With a Hard Core Dangerous?
Acne is generally not dangerous, but different types of solid core acne carry different risks. For example, if you pick a whitehead, you can contribute to their spread and end up with more of them and possibly some scaring. Squeezing a blackhead isn't much better either -- doing this can cause a skin infection or even a permanent scar.
Some scars can cause holes and some can cause bumps. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict if your acne will result in scaring, let alone what type. However, there are some factors that increase your risk of having acne scars.
One of them is having long-term acne due to the lack or ineffectiveness of treatment and another is having someone in your family who suffers or has suffered from acne.
How to Get Rid of a Pimple With a Hard Core?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, if your acne condition is mild, you can use products that contain benzoyl peroxide, retinoid, or azelaic acid to treat these types of pimples with a hard core.
For example, you can use benzoyl peroxide to kill bacteria and possibly reduce oil production; use a retinoid to treat your blackheads instead of squeezing them or simply use resorcinol, salycilic acid or sulphur to dissolve comedones.
More serious case of solid core pimples are nodules. They are basically deep painful leasions that don’t contain pus and thus feel even harder to the touch. In this case, AAD suggests an injection with a medication that can help with the pain and speed up the healing process.
Your doctor may chose to inject corticosteroids directly into affected areas of the skin.
What do you Do When you Feel a Hard Pimple Coming?
If you can feel a pimple coming, it means it is a more severe type of pimple and definitely not a comedone.
The American Academy of Dermatology gives some useful tips when it comes to these types of deep, painful pimples with a hard discharge.
First, you should make sure to apply some ice to the previously cleaned skin to reduce the swelling and pain. Apply the ice to the area for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat two times, with 10-minute breaks in between.
Then apply a very thin layer of a product containing benzoyl peroxide to kill off bacteria. If the situation is urgent and you need to have the breakout cleared up ASAP, a dermatologist is the answer. They can give you a cortisone injection, which can help the pimple disappear in a matter of hours, and also suggest treatments that can help you avoid future breakouts.
No matter how difficult that may be, please try to resist the urge to pick and squeeze any type of acne lesion, even with a hard discharge. Yes, this may provide immediate gratification, but it is extremely harmful in the long term.
By trying to squeeze either already formed or still forming pimple, you effectively slow down the healing process. Furthermore, this can lead to tissue injury and even more inflammation and eventually to permanent scarring.
Finally, if your acne problem is severe, you have a lot of lesions, or you don't notice any response to over-the-counter medications in a period of 4 to 6 weeks, do make sure to make an appointment with a dermatologist. There is a solution, it's just that it is not the same for everyone.