Acne occurs when the pores of the skin become clogged, inflamed, and sometimes infected. These clogged pores can result in blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples. Acne tends to occur in teenagers, but can also occur in adults.
Acne starts in the skin's sebaceous glands. These glands secrete an oily substance called sebum. The sebum normally travels through a tiny hair follicle from the gland to the skin's surface. Sometimes the sebum becomes trapped, mixing with dead skin cells and bacteria. This causes a clogged pore called a comedo (plural: comedones).
Certain medications (such as androgens,
, and barbiturates)
Acne symptoms vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. They include:
Excess oil in the skin
Papules—small pink bumps that may be tender to the touch
Pimples—inflamed, pus-filled bumps that may be red at the base (also called pustules)
Nodules—large, painful, solid lumps that are lodged deep within the skin
Cysts—deep, inflamed, pus-filled lumps that can cause pain and scarring
The doctor will examine the areas of your skin with the most sebaceous glands like the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. If your acne is severe, you may be referred to a dermatologist, a skin specialist.
There are several over-the-counter and prescription medications for acne. They may be applied directly to the skin (topical medication), taken by mouth (oral medication), or injected into the acne cysts or pustules.
Acne may require a combination of treatments but, most acne does not require surgery. Some treatments may take several weeks to work. Your skin may actually appear to get worse before it gets better.
Over-the-counter topical medicines—include cleansers, creams, lotions, and gels. Their goal is to reduce the amount of oil and/or bacteria in the pores. They may contain one or more of the following ingredients:
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a