• Question: why do people get spots ?

    Asked by annelouise372 to Amy, Drew, Julia, Kimberley, Sara on 22 Jun 2011. This question was also asked by haring7r2.
    • Photo: Drew Rae

      Drew Rae answered on 20 Jun 2011:

      Do you mean like pimples or acne? It’s the oil glands in our skin getting clogged and infected. Part of the bodies natural protection system not working quite right. Now the real question is why do we get spots just when we want to look good or impress someone? There ought to be a nobel prize in that one.

    • Photo: Amy MacQueen

      Amy MacQueen answered on 21 Jun 2011:

      Hi annelouise,

      Most people get spots, and they do always seem to break out when you really don’t want them to!! The skin has thousands of tiny hair follicles. Each has a sebaceous gland that produces an oily substance called sebum. An abnormal reaction of the sebaceous glands in the skin to hormones causes them to make more sebum. During puberty you are producing lots of hormone and this causes an increase in spots. Hormonal changes also cause the cells of the top layer of skin (the epidermis) to overgrow, forming a thicker layer which can block the sebum from getting out of the glands.

      Because the sebum is blocked in the sebaceous glands become bigger forming a pimple or spot. Cells at the surface can undergo a chemical reaction forming a black colour – a ’blackhead’ (which is therefore skin pigment, not dirt). If you squeeze it you can push out the blackhead and let the spot drain (and so settle down).

      But in some spots the opening of the gland is so tiny that air can’t reach the sebum, so these spots don’t become blackheads but stay as whiteheads. These are more common and are likely to become red and inflamed, due to bacteria commonly found harmlessly on the skin surface. These bacteria thrive on the sebum and multiply in the sebaceous gland, triggering an inflammatory reaction.

      so thats it spot on! 🙂

    • Photo: Julia Griffen

      Julia Griffen answered on 21 Jun 2011:

      Spots are tiny bacterial infections… Spots are caused by a build up of dirt and oil in our pores. This then can become infected and our body creates a mini immune response, the pore becomes red and swells. Puss is an accumulation of white blood cells trying to fight the infection.

      Sometimes spots are brought on my changes in hormones and the skin becoming more oily. Sometimes you just can;t stop them…

      I always used to pick my spots… gross i know.. 🙂

    • Photo: Sara Imari Walker

      Sara Imari Walker answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      Hi annelousie! Is “spot” really a term for pimple? Interesting! Is that British? We don’t use that here in the US.

      I was thinking more along the lines of freckles or dark patches of skin, which are produced by production of melanin. Melanin is the chemical that our bodies produce to protect us from the sun (it absorbs harmful UV rays, protecting our delicate DNA!). Melanin also happens to make our skin darker – making us tan with increased sun exposure. Freckles and other beauty marks are therefore caused by small patches of cells producing melanin! Freckles are not a skin disorder, but most people with freckles generally have a lower concentration of melanin in their skin and are therefore more susceptible to the harmful effects of UV. They are a hereditary trait.

      Hope this answers some questions for you too! I certainly learned from the others!