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.