Acne

What is Acne?

Acne is a common disorder. In the health profession, it is also referred to as acne vulgaris. This is a skin problem caused when naturally occurring oil and buildup of dead skin cells make their way into the skin’s pores. Over time, this clog creates a bump on the skin.

Also known as:

  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Blemishes
  • Pimples
  • Zits

Acne comes in a variety of types. Sometimes, a person will only get one or two blemishes. Mild acne comes in the form of several pimples. Severe acne can easily mean hundreds of pimples that can come up anywhere on the body. In some severe cases, pimple can become a large red lump, or cyst, that is extremely painful.

What are the Symptoms of Acne?

The symptoms of acne are pretty straight forward. It involves a mixture of whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. These breakouts can occur pretty much anywhere on the body.

Common areas of breakouts

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Back
  • Chest

Some pimples can develop deep under the skin and cause large lumps. When this happens, the lesion is referred to as a cystic lesion. These are extremely painful and become infected easily. Typically, these cause scars on the skin when they are popped or removed.

Acne Causes

The exact cause of acne remains a mystery. However, hormonal changes taking place in the teenage years may be a contributory factor. Even though scientists are unable to determine the causative factors of acne, they have discovered a number of factors that contribute to its formation. The use of oil based cosmetics, stress, anxiety, humidity, exposure to dirt, hormonal changes, certain medications such as steroids or lithium, and skin irritation can increase the risk of acne.

How is Acne Treated?

Clean skin

Treatment for acne comes in many forms. The first recommendation is to keep your skin clean. You should also avoid wearing makeup, lotions, and anything that can potentially clog your pores. By washing your face at least twice daily, you can ensure that there are no extra dirt, oil, or dry skin cells that can clog your pores. Always wash with a gentle soap with a glycerin base.

Over-the-counter medicine

Many dermatologists recommend their patients to use an over the counter acne cream. This cream should contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. If you do not see improvement in your acne over a three-month time span, you should see a dermatologist.

Prescription medicine

Your doctor may prescribe a prescription treatment for acne. For females, the dermatologist may recommend birth control, especially if the worst portion of their outbreak occurs around the time of their period.

Acne Prevention

The good news is that there are many ways to prevent acne. Washing your face or other susceptible skin twice a day with a gentle cleanser is a great first step. Cleansing away dirt, oil, and other impurities is essential for getting and keeping healthy skin.

The use of a high-quality moisturizer is also necessary as part of your skincare regime. Look for moisturizers labeled as noncomedogenic so that they won’t clog your pores. You could add an over the counter acne treatment product to your daily skin regime as well. Products containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or lactic acid can help to keep oil and germs at bay while clearing up your skin.

Taking a hands off approach to acne can also help. Only touch your skin with clean hands and never pick at acne, which can make it worse or cause new breakouts. Keeping your hair clean is another way to ensure your skin stays cleaner, especially if you have longer hair.

Taking care of yourself is just as important as caring for your skin. Exercising, eating right, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep will all improve your health and your skin simultaneously. Remember to try to stay out of the sun and always wear sunscreen to further protect your skin.

Resources
Last Reviewed:
September 11, 2016
Last Updated:
October 31, 2017