What is acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that happens when hair follicles under the skin become clogged. Oil and dead skin cells plug the pores, and outbreaks of lesions (often called pimples or zits) can happen. Most often, the outbreaks occur on the face but can also appear on the back, chest, and shoulders.

For most people, acne tends to go away by the time they reach their thirties, but some people in their forties and fifties continue to have this skin problem.

Who gets acne?

People of all races and ages get acne, but it is most common in teens and young adults. When acne appears during the teenage years, it is more common in males. Acne can continue into adulthood, and when it does, it is more common in women.

What are the types of acne?

Acne causes several types of lesions, or pimples. Some types:

  • Stay under the skin and produce a white bump (called whiteheads).
  • Reach the surface of the skin and open up (called blackheads).
  • Appear as small, pink bumps on the skin and can be tender to the touch.
  • Are topped by white or yellow pus-filled lesions that may be red at the base.
  • Are large, painful solid lesions that are deep within the skin.
  • Cause deep, painful, pus-filled lesions.

What causes acne?

Doctors believe that one or more of the following can lead to acne:

  • Too much oil in the pore.
  • Buildup of dead skin cells in the pore.
  • Growth of bacteria in the pore.

The following factors may make it more likely for you to develop acne:

  • Hormones.
  • Family history.
  • Medications.
  • Age.

 The following do not cause acne, but may make it worse.

  • Certain foods.
  • Stress.
  • Pressure from sports helmets, tight clothes, or backpacks.
  • Pollution and high humidity.
  • Squeezing or picking at pimples.
  • Scrubbing your skin too hard.

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