Acne is a condition that causes pimples or spots to appear on the skin. When oil (sebum) and dead skin cells block hair follicles on the face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders, acne develops.
The pimples are usually red or brown and can be painful.
Acne can vary in severity from small whiteheads to large inflamed cysts that may cause scarring. Acne most commonly affects people aged 11-30 years but it can occur at any age.
Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in the United States. Acne develops whenever a pore in your skin becomes clogged with residual oil, dead skin cells, or germs.
The clogged pore becomes inflamed and can lead to pimples and cysts. Acne comes in a variety of forms, including:
- Common acne: This subtype affects almost everyone at some point in their lives. It normally starts between the ages of ten and thirty, throughout puberty. Oily parts of the face, such as the forehead, chin, cheeks, and nose, are the most commonly impacted.
- Nodular acne: This type appears as small bumps or lumps that are red and tender to the touch. Nodules may look similar to boils or infected hair follicles (folliculitis). They generally appear on the lower half of the face, such as around the mouth or jawline.
- Cystic acne: This severe form appears as large painful bumps under the skin’s surface with a pus-filled center that can leave behind scars if not treated properly.
- Acne conglobata – This is a severe form of acne that can cause deep, painful cysts. It occurs mostly on the face but may also affect the back, neck, chest and shoulders. People with this condition can develop scars if the problem isn’t treated early enough.
- Acne fulminans – This type of severe inflammatory acne often develops after an injury to the skin, such as a scrape, cut or bruise. It causes sudden onset of redness and swelling around your pimples and pustules (whiteheads). You may also experience fever and chills along with other symptoms such as fatigue and joint pain.
- Blackheads. Blackheads are caused by excess oil production and dead skin cells blocking pores. The black colour is created when melanin — the same pigment responsible for tanning — mixes with sebum (oil) and oxidizes at the surface of the skin.
- Papules (pimples). Papules appear as small red bumps on your skin and may be inflamed or tender to touch. They are most commonly found on the face but also can occur on other parts of your body as well.
Acne can be a frustrating condition that affects many people. It’s common, and it’s not something you have to live with.
Acne is not a disease, but rather a disorder of the hair follicles (the tiny channels in the skin through which hairs grow). Sebaceous glands create sebum, an oily material that greases and nourishes the skin, in these follicles.
Sebum aids in the maintenance of smooth, healthy-looking skin.
But when too much sebum is produced or when the walls of the hair follicle become clogged with dead skin cells, bacteria, and other substances, acne results. This clogging can occur on its own or because of hormones (a major cause of acne in teenagers).