March 9, 2022 0 Comments

Acne vulgaris (or simply acne) is a common human skin disease, characterized by areas of skin with seborrhea (scaly red skin), comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), papules (pinheads), pustules (pimples), nodules (large papules), and possibly scarring. Acne affects mostly skin with the densest population of sebaceous follicles; these areas include the face, the upper part of the chest, and the back. Severe acne is inflammatory, but acne can also manifest in noninflammatory forms.

The lesions are caused by changes in pilosebaceous units, skin structures consisting of a hair follicle and its associated sebaceous gland, changes that require androgen stimulation. Sebaceous glands secrete sebum, a fatty lubricant. The process of blockage of the pilosebaceous unit can lead to increased proliferation of Propionibacterium acnes bacteria on the skin’s surface within the plugged follicle. The Propionibacterium acnes bacteria produce chemicals called acylated lipids that cause inflammation within the follicle wall leading to inflammatory lesions (papules, infected pustules, or nodules) in the dermis around the microcomedone.

Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million Americans annually. And acne is more than an inconvenience. It can cause both physical and psychological problems including permanent scarring of the skin, poor self-image and low self-esteem, and depression and anxiety. 

What is Acne?

Medically known as Acne Vulgaris, Acne is a common skin condition where the pores of your skin become blocked by hair, sebum (an oily substance), bacteria, and dead skin cells. Those blockages produce blackheads, whiteheads, nodules, and other types of pimples. Acne is most common among teenagers, though it affects people of all ages. 

Cause of Acne 

Acne is a hormonal condition that may affect teenagers and young adults. Acne can be caused by hormones, which typically become active during the teenage and young adult years. Sensitivity to these hormones — combined with surface bacteria on the skin and fatty acids within oil glands — can result in acne. 

Sebaceous glands in your skin produce an oily substance called sebum, which helps protect your skin from infection and keeps it from drying out. But when these glands become overactive or blocked, oil builds up under your skin. Bacteria can also grow in this oil and cause inflammation. Breakouts of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, or cysts are often painful or at least uncomfortable (depending on their severity).

Other causes of acne are;

  • Hormonal changes. Androgens are hormones that increase in boys and girls during puberty and cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum. Hormone changes during midlife, particularly in women, can lead to breakouts too.
  • Certain medications. Examples include drugs containing corticosteroids, testosterone, or lithium.
  • Diet. Studies indicate that consuming certain foods — including carbohydrate-rich foods, such as bread, bagels, and chips — may worsen acne. Further study is needed to examine whether people with acne would benefit from following specific dietary restrictions.
  • Stress. Stress doesn’t cause acne, but if you have acne already, stress may make it worse.
  • Picking at acne sores

Types of Acne 


Hair follicles filled with oil and dead skin cells create comedones, which can expand and become whiteheads or blackheads. Products that might cause comedones are called “comedogenic.” “Noncomedogenic” cosmetics and ingredients are less likely to clog pores and lead to acne.

  • Blackheads

Also known as open comedones, open at the surface of your skin. Oxygen in the air (not dirt) gives the top of these pimples their darker appearance.

  • Whitehead’s

Also known as closed comedones, form as raised bumps under the surface of your skin. They remain flesh-colored.

  • Papules

These small, red, raised bumps are caused by inflamed or infected hair follicles. This type of pimple may be sensitive to the touch. Picking or squeezing can make the inflammation worse and may lead to scarring.

  • Pustules

These small red pimples have pus at their tips. They resemble a whitehead with a red ring around the bump. The bump is typically filled with white or yellow pus. Avoid picking or squeezing pustules. Picking can cause scars or dark spots to develop on the skin.

  • Nodules

 These solid, often painful lumps develop beneath the surface of your skin. Nodules should be treated by a dermatologist since they can scar.

  • Cysts.

Cysts are large, pus-filled lesions that look similar to boils. Like nodules, cysts can be painful and should be treated by a dermatologist since they also can scar. People who develop nodules and cysts are usually considered to have a more severe form of acne.

Symptoms of Acne 

Acne can be found almost anywhere on your body, but you’ll most commonly notice breakouts on your:

  • Face and neck
  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Chest

Treatment of Acne 

The best treatments inhibit sebum production, limit bacterial growth, encourage shedding of skin cells to unclog pores or a newer treatment that blocks male hormones in the skin.

Nonprescription Treatment for Acne

  • Cleansers. There are many cleansers and soaps advertised for treating acne. They often contain benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or sulfur.
  • Soap and water. Gentle cleansing of the face with soap and water no more than two times a day can help with acne. However, this does not clear up acne that is already present.
  • Topical retinol gel or creams. Retinol works to keep pimples from being able to form. It affects the growth of cells, causing increased cell turnover to unblock pores. Your acne may appear to get worse before it gets better because it will work on the pimples that have already started forming beneath your skin. It must be used continuously and may take 8-12 weeks to get results.


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