What Is Acne?

Acne Vulgaris Questions Acne Pictures
What Is Acne?

While most people will develop spots at some time in their life, acne is a condition where the person breaks out in lots of spots in one episode. Nearly 80 percent of young people will suffer from an occasional outbreak of acne; however some will be more severely and persistently affected than others. A person with acne may suffer from:

• Spots (sometimes called pustules): Inflamed swelling on the skin containing pus. See, what is a spot?
• Whiteheads: Pimples that stay under the surface of the skin.
• Blackheads: Pimples that rise to the skin surface and turn black.
• Papules: Small sore pink bumps on the surface of the skin.
• Cysts: Where pus collects deep in the skin forming painful sacs of fluid called cysts. This is a severe form of acne which can leave scars.

Who Gets Acne?

The most common form of acne is called acne vulgaris. It usually starts around the time of puberty when oily skin is more common due to excess levels of sebum (oil) production. It typically disappears spontaneously by about the age of 20. While more girls than boys are affected, severe acne (associated with cysts) is more common in boys. Acne can also occur in adulthood in people who may never have had a pimple in their life. Adult onset acne, as it is known, tends to be different to teenage acne. Firstly, adults have fewer blackheads and whiteheads and adult acne tends to be concentrated on the lower part of the face, around the chin and neck. Adult acne is closely linked to hormone fluctuations such as those brought about by periods (menstrual cycle), pregnancy, birth control pills, menopause and hormone imbalances. Half of women with adult acne have excess androgenic hormones (male hormones) that produce masculine traits such as thinning hair on the head, excess facial hair (hirsutism) and irregular periods.

Other Acne Facts

• Teenage acne tends to hit girls between the ages of 14 and 17 and boys between 16 and 19.
• Facial scarring due to acne lesions affect up to 20 percent of people.
• About 5 percent of women and 1 percent of men continue to experience acne after the age of 25.

• Acne is common in teenagers due to the sudden surge of hormones. See, how the female body develops.
• If you suffer from acne, read about the structure and function of the skin. It will help you understand your condition better.

When To Seek Treatment

If you have mild acne with a few pimples now and then, over the counter (OTC) remedies may be sufficient to control symptoms. However 40 percent of teenagers develop acne which is severe enough to warrant the care of a dermatologist (skin doctor). Always seek the advice of a doctor if:

• Your acne does not respond to OTC remedies, improved diet, facials, herbal medications or special soaps.
• Spots are widespread and have spread to your back or chest.
• Spots are worsening and spreading.
• Acne is starting to leave scars on your skin.
• You also have irregular periods and excess facial hair.
• You have dark skin and are left with darker patches of skin after your spots have cleared. This is a sign of postinflammatory pigmentation (PIP).

Useful Acne Resources

American Academy of Dermatology
Website: www.aad.org
The AAD is one of the largest associations of dermatologists in the world. It offers a host of public information on tips and treatment for acne, as well as highlighting some popular myths.

American Society for Dermatologic Surgeons
Website: www.asds.net
This organization represents specialists who work in dermatologic surgery. That includes those who practice microdermabrasion, laser hair removal, injectable fillers/implants, chemical peeling treatments and botulinum toxin type A therapy. Provides information on how to choose a surgeon as well as the do's and don’ts for cosmetic procedures in salons or spas. Also provides a list of recommended dermatologic surgeons.

Related Questions
What is sensitive skin? Signs and symptoms.
Does chocolate cause spots? Acne questions.
What is a mole? Pictures and types of moles.

• Got another question? See: Skin Care Questions

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