Contents of pimples?

So, I’m curious - what, exactly, is in a pimple? I know there are a variety of causes of pimples, but the main types of contents that I’ve seen are:

  • Thin, yellow, clear liquid (sebum?)
  • Thin to thick off-white, opaque liquid
  • Off-white solid or semi-solid - sometimes it’s sort of extruded from the pimple, sometimes (especially with poppers) it’s a sort of lump or string of lumps
  • Thick, yellowish, translucent waxy solid - sometimes a very small amount from a blackhead, but sometimes larger lumps.

I’m especially curious if, as is my suspicion, the various off-white liquids/solids (which often come together) are made up of the same thing, but somehow end up different. Wikipedia pretty much just covers the causes and treatments of pimples, and is terribly unhelpful on what all this stuff coming out of my body is. Anyone know?

I can’t believe I opened this thread.

It’s sebum, pus, and plasma, I think.

Big fukkin’ ew.

It’s the stuff of threads. :smiley:

The contents of pimples is the stuff of thread?!

The TMI Thread.
Good news! I have discovered the Motherlode Pore™!
What is this thing on my face?!?!?!
Another (way TMI) zit thread!
Most painful place you have had a boil

Just a sampler.

Wow, post 1 of thread 2 and I’m…speechless. Makes Wikepedia more of a dictionary compared to the dope.

Yes, yes, but I want facts, not long, excessively disgusting stories of Tunguska-sized zits. I mean, I’m still reading those, but I still want to know the internal makeup of various pimples.

Pus is generally what’s left of white blood cells after they go kamikaze on invading bacteria.

Try checking out

IANAD, but my understanding is that pimples contain sebaceous material, dead skin cells, and pus. Blackheads usually contain dead skin cells and sebaceous material in various moisture levels. If the person who has the pimple wears makeup, or uses any skin product other than soap, some particles of the makeup or whatever might get trapped in the pore. There might also be pollutants trapped in the zit. When I worked as a popcorn popper in a theater, I had to shower after each shift, and blow my nose very carefully. I had to pour fine salt with flavorings into each batch of popcorn, and that stuff got in my nose…and in my pores. I looked like I’d been powdered with dried egg yolk at the end of my shift, and in some cases I had to extract the accumulation of salt out of some pores with a pair of tweezers.

I’ve had a few abcesses/cysts too. Sometimes these are caused by foreign matter in the skin. I’ve dug a few thorns out of my husband’s abcesses (he generally refuses to see a doctor, but comes to me and whines until I perform home surgery on him), so it’s possible to have a tiny bit of stuff in a pore which would become infected.

OK, I just got off the phone with my nephew, who’s in medical school. He says that pimples contain dead/keratinized skin cells, sebaceous material, pus, and bacteria. He said there’s a specific type of bacteria in acne, but he can’t remember the name of it offhand. He also said that makeup and pollutants are sometimes in the zits.

He said that it was rare for other foreign materials to be in pimples.

Ok - so most likely explanation is, the yellow stuff (whether liquid or solid) is sebaceous material (is that different from sebum?), while the white stuff is pus and dead cells? And the level of solidity is just moisture level? Interesting. Thanks!

Just don’t add the term bartholin to you seach parameter

Told ya

I thought the liquid stuff was pus, and the solid stuff was old pus that had dried out.

Staphlococcus Aureus spp

Don’t forget the bacteria. Tony was very firm about pimples containing bacteria. He seemed to consider bacteria a vital component of any pimple’s inner contents.

Being a Mad magazine aficionado, I just always called it SKLORTCH from the sound it made when it plopped against the bathroom mirror after squeezing it out… with my two index fingers… and then wiping “Hi Mom” with the exudate on same.

[shrug] Guess ya had to be there, huh? [/shrug]:stuck_out_tongue:


Tom Bunk? Great cartoonist.

Looking through the Wikipedia pages on acne, I’d venture to guess that the buildup of bacteria and other waste is due to the system getting clogged and not being able to properly flow. Without that movement, bacteria is able to take hold and live amongst the sebum, which then prompts the creation of pus as an anti-bacterial measure. Bacteria and pus aren’t particularly necessary for a pimple to form, but they’ll always both be there by the time it forms into something noticeable.


The Dope never dissappoints!