Acne

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Overview

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. It causes whiteheads, blackheads or pimples. Acne is most common among teenagers, though it affects people of all ages.

Effective acne treatments are available, but acne can be persistent. The pimples and bumps heal slowly, and when one begins to go away, others seem to crop up.Depending on its severity, acne can cause emotional distress and scar the skin. The earlier you start treatment, the lower your risk of such problems.


Symptoms

Acne commonly appears on the face and shoulders. It may also occur on the trunk, arms, legs, and buttocks. Skin changes include:


Crusting of skin bumps

Cysts

Papules (small red bumps)

Pustules (small red bumps containing white or yellow pus)

Redness around the skin eruptions

Scarring of the skin

Whiteheads

Blackheads

Causes

Acne occurs when the pores of your skin become blocked with oil, dead skin, or bacteria.

Each pore of your skin opens to a follicle. The follicle is made up of a hair and a sebaceous (oil) gland.

The oil gland releases sebum (oil), which travels up the hair, out of the pore, and onto your skin. Sebum helps keeps your skin lubricated and soft.

One or more mishaps in this lubrication process can contribute to acne.

Acne might occur, for example, when:

your follicles produce too much oil

dead skin cells accumulate in your pores

bacteria build up in your pores

Any of these concerns can lead to pimples, which develop when bacteria grow in a clogged pore and the oil can’t escape.


Risk factors

Risk factors for acne include:


Age. People of all ages can get acne, but it's most common in teenagers.

Hormonal changes. Such changes are common during puberty or pregnancy.

Family history. Genetics plays a role in acne. If both of your parents had acne, you're likely to develop it too.

Greasy or oily substances. You may develop acne where your skin comes into contact with oil or oily lotions and creams.

Friction or pressure on your skin. This can be caused by items such as telephones, cellphones, helmets, tight collars and backpacks.

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Complications

Acne scarring can sometimes develop as a complication of acne. Any type of acne spot can lead to scarring, but it's more common when the most serious types of spots (nodules and cysts) burst and damage nearby skin. Scarring can also occur if you pick or squeeze your spots, so it's important not to do this.

Prevention

Preventing acne is difficult if not impossible during normal hormonal changes. But some things can help:


Wash your face daily with warm water and a mild facial cleanser.

Routinely use moisturizer.

You don’t have to stop using makeup, but try to use “non-comedogenic” products and remove makeup at the end of each day.

Keep your hands away from your face.