It would be a very rare and very lucky person who managed to go their whole life without experiencing pimples somewhere on their body. They are natural and common ailments, and although some can be very painful, they are largely completely harmless. Psychologically however, they can do more damage, especially for people who are prone to getting pimples often and on prominent and visible places such as the face and neck. The most common course of action is to cover up pimples with makeup and concealer, but there are also a number of remedies which may also be able to help. Ice is one of these.
As soon as you start to understand how pimples are formed, it is much easier to see how they happen so easily. The human body is covered in millions of hair follicles. These follicles are home to glands which secrete a natural oil (sebum) to keep the skin hydrated and healthy. Normal hair follicles grow hair without issue, and sebum leaves the pores and moisturizes the skin.
However, it is possible for these hair follicles to trap things. Dirt, dust, oil, residual cosmetic makeup and dead skin cells can get into the pore and can block it. The sebum is still produced by the gland inside the follicle, but the oil has nowhere to go, so the skin around the follicle swells. This is how a pimple forms, and the process is the same for both whiteheads and blackheads. When the skin does not rupture, a whitehead is formed. If the pore is blocked but still open to the air and able to oxidize, a blackhead forms instead.
With 5 million hair follicles across the body, the chances of a few of them becoming blocked is extremely high. It is therefore unsurprising that pimples are such a common occurrence, and that they can occur anywhere on the body.
There is a reason that we rush to find an ice pack or a frozen bag of peas after an injury. Self-freezing ice packs are a vital component in most first aid kits, and yet when it comes to pimples, the properties of ice are often dismissed as an old wives' tale. Ice is easy to access, completely natural and will not cause the skin any lasting damage. It has no side effects, except mild discomfort from the cold, and yet is largely overlooked as a treatment for pimples and acne, despite its effective properties in:
Cold temperatures have been proven to reduce inflammation. When you suffer an injury, white and red blood cells move to the area to try to protect against further damage and repair any injuries. This excess blood in the area is what causes the redness, swelling and heat. The pain comes from the increased blood levels swelling and compressing nearby nerves.
The same thing happens, but on a much smaller scale, with pimples. The inflammation and redness is a result of blood cells rushing to repair and protect against damage caused by the clogging of the hair follicles. Sometimes this swelling compresses the nerves and this is what causes pain in some cases.
The ice works in the same way as it does on other injuries. It cools the area, reducing the heating effect of the inflammation. The cold also helps to numb nearby nerve endings, which therefore reduce the pain. As the blood is cooled, it cannot travel around the body as quickly. This means that blood cells reach the injury site at a slower rate, reducing inflammation. Icing pimples and acne is one way to reduce inflammation, and to potentially reduce the redness too.
It has been widely recognized for decades that heat helps to open up the pores of the skin. This is one of the reasons that steam rooms, jacuzzis and saunas have risen to such popularity. Opening the pores allows you to clean them more easily, but it is also a great opportunity for dirt, oil and skin cells to enter the follicles and cause blockages which will then turn into pimples.
Ice has the opposite effect: it forces the pores to shrink. Ice cannot close the pores completely, but it does make the entrances to the pores smaller which makes it more difficult for dust, skin cells, oil or dirt to make their way into the holes. Treatments which involve exposing the skin to heat to open the pores, then cleaning the face, then exposing the skin to cold immediately afterwards, have been recommended by dermatologists as a preventative treatment for pimples and acne.
Clean, cool water is also a way of washing the skin. Regularly flushing the face with cool, cold water is a treatment in itself. It keeps the skin clean, clearing away the natural oils, dead skin cells, residual makeup or skincare products, dust and dirt from the surface of the skin.
There are several ways you can use ice as a treatment against pimples or acne. It is not recommended to place ice cubes themselves directly on the skin, as it could stick or cause cold burns. Instead, dermatologists recommend the following ways of using ice: