what are skin blemishes

What Are Skin Blemishes? Symptoms, Treatment, and Everything You Need To Know

Skin blemishes can come in all shapes and sizes and for many reasons. Here's our best advice on how to treat them effectively at home.
Updated: October 18, 2023
Share article:
Article Contents

There are many hurdles and challenges to overcome in the pursuit of healthy skin. One of the biggest obstacles is skin blemishes. They can appear from out of nowhere and completely ruin our self-confidence. But what are skin blemishes exactly, and what causes them?

In this article, we’ll be covering the topic of skin blemishes from head to toe. We’ll discuss how they form, what triggers them, the symptoms you should look out for, and of course, how to treat them effectively.

Sit back, relax, and let’s get started.

What are skin blemishes?

Skin blemishes are basically any little imperfection or spot on your skin that looks different from the surrounding skin area. They can vary in appearance but can include things like pimples, scars, freckles, moles, bumps, and birthmarks. Blemishes show up for all kinds of reasons, like genetics, hormonal changes, or exposure to certain hazards in the environment. They can also be leftover marks from skin conditions such as acne or eczema.

While skin blemishes don’t usually cause any pain or harm, they can be a bit annoying or embarrassing for some people. Don’t worry, though – there are ways to treat or lessen some kinds of blemishes. We’ll be discussing some helpful home remedies later in this article that may be able to fade your blemishes with minimal intrusion.

Can skin blemishes be dangerous?

It’s important to remember that most skin blemishes are completely harmless and benign, so there’s usually no need to worry about them. Things like acne, freckles, dry flakey skin around your nose, and moles are generally nothing to be concerned about.

However, it’s also useful to be aware that in very rare cases, skin blemishes can be a sign of cancer. This is why you need to observe any strange or abnormal changes in your skin.  This includes new moles or spots that look different from the rest. If a new mole appears that is sensitive or painful, you should seek your doctor’s advice. If you notice anything that worries you, don’t hesitate to speak to a professional.

A list of the different forms of skin blemishes

There’s a wide range of skin blemishes that have their own unique set of characteristics and appearances. Here’s a comprehensive list of the most common skin blemishes you may encounter.

Dark spots

Dark spots are patches of skin that appear darker than the surrounding skin. They can be caused by a variety of things, such as prolonged sun exposure, acne, ingrown hairs, hormonal changes, poor shaving techniques, or aging. They’re also sometimes called “age spots” or “sun spots”, but they can show up at any age, not just as you get older. More common terms for dark spots include hyperpigmentation and liver spots.

Typically, dark spots appear as flat, oval-shaped areas on the skin.  They usually range in color from light brown to black. They can show up on any part of the body that gets a lot of sun exposure, but are most common on the face, hands, shoulders, between breasts, arms, and yes, the butt!


Birthmarks are a type of skin blemish.  Unlike other blemishes that might show up over time, they’re present from birth or appear very shortly after birth. They can appear as patches of discolored skin, bumps, or even raised, hairy areas.  Birthmarks can come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.

While some birthmarks can be a source of self-consciousness for some people, they’re generally harmless and don’t require any treatment. In fact, many people see their birthmarks as a unique and interesting part of their appearance.

However, if a birthmark changes in size, shape, or color over time, it’s worth getting it checked out by a doctor to make sure it’s not a sign of a serious condition.


Acne is a widespread type of skin blemish that can greatly impact the appearance and health of the skin. It usually shows up as small bumps, blackheads (or strawberry skin), or whiteheads on the face, chest, and back.  It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as hormones, stress, genetics, or poor skincare habits.

For many people, acne can be a source of frustration, self-consciousness, and even pain. It can make the skin look and feel oily, bumpy, and inflamed, and in some cases, it can even lead to scarring or dark spots.


Scars are a type of skin blemish that forms as part of the natural healing process after an injury or trauma to the skin. They can come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, and can be raised or flat, smooth or bumpy.

While scars can be a bit of a cosmetic nuisance for some people, they’re generally harmless and don’t require any treatment. In fact, they’re a natural part of the healing process and can even be seen as a symbol of strength and resilience.

What causes skin blemishes?

Once again, skin blemishes can be caused by a huge variety of factors. However, there are some more common triggers for the formation of blemishes that we’re going to cover now.


Possibly the most influential factor we need to consider when talking about skin blemishes is genetics. Genetics can determine almost everything about the condition, appearance, and health of your skin. For example, if acne runs in your family, the likelihood of you experiencing it is higher. The same goes for your overall skin type in general. Oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, and normal skin can simply result from your genetic makeup.

Infections & viruses

Some viruses and infections can cause rashes, bumps, or blisters on the skin.  Others can cause swelling or discoloration.
One common virus that causes skin blemishes is the herpes virus, which can cause cold sores or genital sores. These sores are usually small, fluid-filled blisters that can be painful and uncomfortable.  They can also leave behind long-term marks on the skin.

Another example is bacterial infections like acne, which is caused by the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes. This bacteria can clog the pores in the skin, leading to inflammation and the formation of pimples and blackheads. In more serious instances, it can also lead to significant health issues including joint and bone infections, as well as prostate inflammation.[1]

Fungal infections are yet another type of infection that can cause skin blemishes, such as ringworm, which causes a circular rash on the skin that can be itchy and scaly.

Blocked pores

Blocked pores are a common cause of skin blemishes, such as pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. Pores are tiny openings in the skin that allow oil and sweat to escape, but when these pores become clogged with dead skin cells, excess oil, or other debris, it can lead to a buildup of bacteria and inflammation.

When a pore becomes clogged with oil and dead skin cells, it can lead to the formation of a blackhead. The dark color comes from the oil and dead skin cells being exposed to air, which causes them to oxidize and turn black.

A whitehead, on the other hand, occurs when the pore becomes completely blocked and doesn’t allow any air to enter. This causes a small, white bump to form on the surface of the skin.

Pimples, which are also known as papules or pustules, occur when the bacteria that normally live on the skin start to multiply inside the clogged pore. This can lead to inflammation and redness and can result in a small bump on the skin that’s filled with pus.

Reactions to medications

Skin blemishes can be triggered by negative reactions to certain medications. These reactions vary greatly between people, but it’s always important to monitor how your skin behaves when you are actively taking prescribed treatments. If you notice your skin reacting to particular medications, you should speak to your doctor for a more personalized evaluation and further advice.


It’s true that your diet can play a role in the health of your skin, and certain foods can contribute to the development of skin blemishes. For example, foods that are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can cause a spike in insulin levels, which can lead to inflammation in the body and potentially worsen acne.

Dairy products, particularly milk, have also been linked to the development of acne in some people. This is thought to be due to the hormones found in milk, as well as the way that milk can affect insulin levels in the body.

Foods that are high in saturated and trans fats can also contribute to skin blemishes, as these types of fats can increase inflammation in the body and lead to clogged pores.

However, everyone reacts to various foods in different ways, and what may be true for you may not be true for someone else. Making an effort to keep track of which foods cause you problems is the first step in refining your diet to be more healthy.

How you can treat skin blemishes: Our guide

Now that you know everything there is to know about skin blemishes and what causes them, it’s time to learn how to treat them.

The following treatment methods have been compiled by the Speaking Skincare team as we believe them to be techniques that give the best results. Once again, however, depending on your individual skin type and blemish severity, some of these methods may be too harsh or too soft. This is a trial-and-error process where you can figure out what works best for you.

Use sunscreen

Using sunscreen regularly is an important part of maintaining healthy skin, as it can help to protect against a wide range of issues, including dark spots, irritation, and skin blemishes.

Exposure to the sun’s UV rays is one of the primary causes of dark spots and other forms of skin discoloration. UV rays can trigger the production of excess melanin in the skin, which can lead to the formation of hyperpigmentation. Sun damage can also cause skin irritation, which can lead to a variety of skin blemishes, including pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. Regular use of sunscreen with a high SPF can help to protect against this type of damage and prevent the development of dark spots and skin blemishes.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a popular natural remedy for a variety of skin issues, including skin blemishes. It’s a plant that’s been used for centuries for its soothing and healing properties. Aloe vera contains a gel-like substance that’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can help to promote healthy skin.

One of the primary benefits of using aloe vera for skin blemishes is its ability to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a common cause of many different types of skin blemishes, including pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. Aloe vera can help to soothe the skin, which can help to clear up blemishes more quickly and prevent new ones from forming.

Aloe vera can also help to speed up the healing process for scars and other types of skin damage. It contains compounds that can stimulate the growth of new skin cells, which can help to repair damaged skin and reduce the appearance of scars. Pretty amazing stuff, huh?!

Eat a healthy diet

You are what you eat, as they say. Eating foods that are rich in vitamins C and E can be an excellent way to promote healthy, glowing skin. Both of these vitamins are powerful antioxidants that help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals and inflammation.

Vitamin C, in particular, is important for the production of collagen, a protein that’s essential for maintaining the structure of the skin.[2] Collagen helps to keep the skin firm and supple, and a lack of collagen can lead to the formation of wrinkles and other signs of aging. Vitamin C is also important for protecting the skin against sun damage and reducing the appearance of dark spots and other types of skin discoloration.

Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant that helps to protect the skin against damage from free radicals. It’s also important for maintaining the moisture balance of the skin, which can help to prevent dryness and flakiness. Vitamin E can help to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation, which can help to prevent the formation of skin blemishes.

Foods that are rich in vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Strawberries
  • Kiwi
  • Broccoli
  • Bell peppers

Foods that are rich in vitamin E include:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Trout

By incorporating these foods into your diet, you can help to promote healthy, radiant skin from the inside out.


Skin blemishes can vary widely in their appearance, size, and the reasons why they appear. Everyone experiences them differently, but they can all be treated through positive action that promotes healthy skin.

By using natural substances such as aloe vera, consuming more healthy vitamins through your diet, and protecting your skin from the sun, you can do a lot to reduce and minimize the impact of skin blemishes.

Read more:
Let's take this to the inbox!
Get our latest skincare news, best product recommendations & brand-exclusive discount codes directly to your inbox.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Staying Medically Accurate!
This article has been reviewed by the in-field experts on our Medical Content Advisory Board to ensure everything is up-to-date and accurate.