What is acne?

Acne is a very common skin condition in the United States. Most of us, at one point or another, have probably had acne. It affects 40 to 50 million people in the United States each year. It is most common during adolescence, affecting three out of four teenagers. However it can also affect people in their 30s and 40s; pregnant women are also prone to breakouts (Source: AAD).

Many myths are associated with the cause and treatment of acne. For example, the belief that chocolate or greasy foods cause acne is a misconception. Acne occurs when our pores, or openings in the skin, become clogged with dead skin cells. An overproduction of oil traps these skin cells inside the pore. The backed-up ducts become filled with dirt and bacteria, forming a plug known as a comedone. The top of the plug has a white tip, which if punctured, releases oil and bacteria into the skin. The inflammation can go deep into the skin, causing a cyst or nodule.

People with acne often feel stigmatized and embarrassed about their condition. It can cause anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression.

There are a variety of treatments for acne, including self-care, topical medications, prescription medications, and surgery. You should not attempt to pop or disrupt the pimples, as this can lead to a worsening of the condition. Acne often resolves on its own, especially as people grow out of adolescence.

Seek prompt medical care if you develop signs of a spreading or deeper infection that is associated with acne, such as swelling, warmth and redness of the involved area, or fever and chills.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of acne?

Acne is a skin condition that has a number of symptoms. It is not just limited to the red spots we know as pimples, but also includes a number of different skin irritations. These can occur all over the body, including the face, which is the most common location, as well as the legs, arms, back, shoulders and buttocks.

Common symptoms of acne

CAUSES

What causes acne?

Acne is caused by clogged pores, which are tiny openings in the skin’s surface. An overproduction of oil by the oil glands combined with rapidly growing skin cells can clog the pores. The accumulated cellular debris contains bacteria that normally reside on healthy skin. Enzymes released by these trapped bacteria cause localized inflammation within the resulting plug called a comedone. The come... Read more about acnecauses

TREATMENTS

How is acne treated?

Although acne cannot be cured, many effective treatments are available to reduce its symptoms. These include over-the-counter (OTC) medications, prescription medications, and surgeries. Fortunately, with time, most young people with acne will outgrow the condition.

OTC medications

You can buy a number of topical medications in stores without a prescription. These medica... Read more about acnetreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails, Acne


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