Why are pimples red?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
The redness of a pimple is due to inflammation below the skin’s surface. The inflammation is the result of the immune system responding to a build up of pus and bacteria. Watch the animation to see how pimples form.

The redness you see in pimples comes from an increase in the local blood circulation, which is caused by acne inflammation. No one knows why some individuals suffer from acne with a lot of redness and inflammation, and others get acne with mainly blackheads and clogged pores and very little redness and inflammation.

Inflammatory acne is treated differently from non-inflamed acne. If you have a lot of red pimples, it's usually necessary to treat with antibiotics, applied topically or given by mouth. In females with inflamed acne, oral contraceptives can be very helpful. And very severe inflammatory cystic acne may require the oral drug isotretinoin, which requires close monitoring by your physician.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.