Acne is a common skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. It often causes whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples and usually appears on the face, forehead, chest, upper back, and shoulders. Acne is most common among teenagers, but it affects people of all ages.

There are several types of acne including cystic acne, which is large, red, and painful breakouts deep in your skin; nodular acne, which are large, solid, painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin; and comedonal acne, which whiteheads and blackheads fall under.


Factors that can trigger acne include hormones, certain medications, diet, stress, and infection. It’s important to keep in mind that acne can’t be cured, only managed, and pimple-popping could potentially lead to scarring and more acne.

Treatments range from over-the-counter creams and ointments to prescription medication, depending on the severity of the condition. Always consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Causes of Acne

Acne is commonly caused due to various factors, that include:

1. Overproduction of oil (sebum): Acne appears when oil glands, attached to hair follicles, produce too much oil. The excess oil mixes with dead skin cells that block your pores, causing the skin to form pimple.

2. Accumulation of dead skin cells: Sometimes, dead skin cells are not shed fast enough and get trapped in the pores, causing acne.

3. Clogged pores: Pores in your skin can become clogged if your body produces an excess amount of sebum and dead skin cells. This results in acne.

4. Bacterial infections: Once the pores clog, bacteria can multiply rapidly leading to inflammation, redness, and acne. The bacteria Propionibacterium acnes is known to contribute to the development of acne.

5. Hormonal changes: During puberty or certain phases of menstrual cycle, hormones might stimulate the oil glands to produce more sebum, leading to acne. Hormonal changes due to pregnancy can also cause acne.

6. Certain medications: Certain medicines that contain androgen and lithium can cause acne.

7. Diet: Some studies suggest that foods rich in carbohydrates, dairy products and chocolates may trigger acne in some individuals.

8. Stress: While stress doesn’t directly cause acne, it can exacerbate the condition if you already have breakouts.

Remember, everyone’s skin reacts differently and what may cause acne in one person could have no effect on someone else. If you’re struggling with acne, it could be beneficial to consult with a dermatologist.

Risk Factors of Acne

1. Hormonal Changes: Hormones stimulate the oil glands to produce more sebum, leading to acne. This is particularly true during puberty, pregnancy, and menstruation.

2. Stress: High levels of stress can cause or exacerbate acne as it affects hormonal balance.

3. Diet: Certain diets, especially those rich in carbohydrates or sugar, can trigger acne.

4. Medications: Some medications, including certain corticosteroids, lithium, or drugs containing iodides or bromides, can worsen acne.

5. Oil-Based Cosmetics: These can clog pores, leading to acne breakouts.

6. Family History: If both your parents had acne, you’re likely to develop it too because of genetic predisposition.

7. Friction or Pressure: Items like cell phones, helmets, tight collars, or backpacks can cause this.

8. Environmental Factors: High humidity, exposure to dirt and certain pollutants can worsen acne.

9. Smoking: For some people, especially women, smoking can provoke acne breakouts.

10. Lack of Sleep: Lack of rest and adequate sleep can cause hormonal imbalance, which might trigger acne.

Note: It’s essential to understand that these factors do not cause acne but can trigger or aggravate the condition. The primary causes of acne are excess oil production, clogged pores, bacteria, and inflammation.

Signs and Symptoms of Acne

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Common signs and symptoms of acne include:

1. Whiteheads: These are pimples that are formed when a pore gets clogged with oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells. They appear on the surface as small, round bumps that are white or skin-colored.

2. Blackheads: Like whiteheads, these are also clogged pores, but they are open at the surface and exposed to air, which causes the plug to oxidize and turn a dark color.

3. Pimples: Also known as pustules, these are small, red and inflamed bumps on the skin. They usually contain pus at their tips.

4. Papules: These are visible, small, red, raised bumps caused by inflamed or infected hair follicles.

5. Nodules: Nodules are large, solid, painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin. They are formed by the buildup of secretions deep within hair follicles.

6. Cystic lesions: These are painful, pus-filled lumps beneath the surface of the skin. They can cause scarring.

7. Redness and Swelling: Surrounding areas of the acne can often become red, swollen, and uncomfortable.

8. Scarring: Severe acne, especially cystic acne, can often lead to scarring once the acne clears.

9. Increase in oiliness: Someone with acne-prone skin may notice an increase in oiliness, especially around the forehead, nose, and chin (also known as the T-zone).

Please be aware that symptoms of acne can vary depending on the severity and the type of acne. If acne is causing significant distress or is not responsive to over-the-counter treatments, it may be helpful to consult with a dermatologist.

Diagnosis Acne

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It is characterized by blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples, and usually appears on the face, forehead, upper back, chest, and shoulders. Acne is most common among teenagers, though it affects people of all ages.

Various factors contribute to acne development such as:

1. Increased Production of Oil: Hormonal changes especially in teenagers and during menstruation can cause excess oil production.
2. Clogged Skin Pores: Dead skin cells and oil can clog the pores leading to acne.
3. Bacteria: Excess oil can cause bacteria buildup that can lead to acne.
4. Activity of Androgens: These hormones increase in boys and girls during puberty causing the skin’s oil glands to enlarge and make more sebum which leads to acne.

Acne can cause emotional distress and may also leave scars. It’s most advisable to consult a dermatologist for treatment options if over-the-counter products are not effective. Proper skin care and lifestyle changes can also help prevent acne outbreaks.

Treatment of Acne

Acne is usually treated by dermatologists (doctors that specialize in skin problems) and they offer several treatments based on the severity of the acne. Here are the common treatments:

1. Over-the-counter (OTC) topical treatments: These are usually the first option. They contain ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide and can be in the form of gels, creams, or lotions applied to the affected skin.

2. Prescription topical treatments: If over-the-counter solutions don’t work, doctors often prescribe stronger topical medications. These might contain ingredients like retinoids or antibiotics.

3. Oral medications: For moderate to severe acne, topical treatments may not be effective enough. In this case, oral medications such as antibiotics, birth control pills, or isotretinoin may be prescribed.

4. Therapies: Some cases might require therapies like chemical peels, laser treatment, light therapy, or even extraction of whiteheads and blackheads.

5. Lifestyle changes: Maintaining a healthy diet, regular cleansing and gentle exfoliation, regular exercise, stress management, enough sleep, and hydration can also help in managing acne.

Do note that these treatments may take some time, often a few months, to produce visible results. Also, what works for one person might not work for another due to individual skin type and specific acne condition. Therefore, treatment should be under the guidance of a professional healthcare provider.

Medications commonly used for Acne

Treatment of acne usually involves over-the-counter or prescription medications. The choice of medication depends on the severity and type of acne. Here’s a list of some commonly used acne medications:

1. Topical Retinoids: These medications include adapalene (Differin), tretinoin (Retin-A, Avita, others) and tazarotene (Tazorac, Avage). They work by preventing the plugging of hair follicles.

2. Salicylic Acid: It works as a peeling agent to help shed dead skin cells more quickly.

3. Benzoyl Peroxide: It helps prevent blockage of hair follicles and kills acne-causing bacteria that may form within follicles.

4. Antibiotics: These are often combined with benzoyl peroxide to combat inflammation and bacterial growth. They include medications like clindamycin and erythromycin.

5. Azelaic Acid: This can help to reduce inflammation, bacteria, and excessive production of keratin which can block pores.

6. Isotretinoin (Accutane): For severe cystic acne not responsive to other treatments, this powerful drug is often employed. It greatly decreases the size of the oil glands so that much less oil is produced.

7. Oral Contraceptives: For women with acne, certain birth control pills may help by balancing hormones.

8. Spironolactone: An oral medication often used for persistent acne in adult females, helping by blocking an androgen hormones effect on the skin.

9. Dapsone: It is often used for inflammatory acne, particularly in adult women with acne.

10. Topical Antibiotics: These help kill excess bacteria and reduce redness. Examples include clindamycin and erythromycin.

Remember that everyone’s skin is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s best to talk to your dermatologist to find a treatment plan that’s most effective for your specific type of acne.

Prevention of Acne

Sure, below are some ways to prevent Acne:

1. Washing your face twice a day: This is especially necessary if you’ve got oily skin or been sweating. The aim is to not allow the pores to get clogged with dirt, sweat or dead skin cells.

2. Choosing the right skincare:  Not all skin types are the same, so the product that works for one might not work for another. People with oily skin might need water-based products while those with dry skin might need oil-based products.

3. Not popping or picking at acne: As tempting as it might be, this can lead to inflammation and scarring and even more acne.


4. Avoid touching your face: Our hands come in contact with a lot of dirt, oil and bacteria. Touching your face too often can lead to breakouts.

5. Pay attention to your diet: Some studies have found that diets high in dairy or carbohydrates might be linked to acne. This is not the case for everyone, but if you suspect that your diet might be contributing to your acne, you might want to consider making changes.

6. Showering after physical activities: Physical activities often lead to sweating. If the sweat sits too long on your skin, it can lead to the clogging of pores which results in acne.

7. Manage stress: Stress has been linked to acne. As such, managing stress through activities like yoga, meditation, reading or whatever works for you can help in acne prevention.

8. Sleep well: Lack of sleep can lead to hormonal changes and subsequently, acne. With adequate rest, your skin gets time to rejuvenate.

9. Regular exfoliation: This can help rid your skin of dead cells that can clog pores and lead to acne.

10. Keep hair clean and out of your face: Your hair also contains oils that might contribute to breakouts especially around the hairline.

These are not foolproof guarantees but they can certainly help you manage your skin better and avoid many common acne triggers. In case of severe, persistent acne, it is always advisable to consult with a dermatologist.

FAQ’s about Acne

1. What is Acne?
A: Acne is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that causes spots and pimples, and it often starts during puberty. It is not dangerous, but it can leave skin scars.

2. What causes Acne?
A: Acne is primarily a hormonal condition driven by androgenic hormones, which typically become active during the teenage years. It may also be caused by bacteria on the skin and oily substances applied to the skin.

3. What are the types of Acne?
A: Acne can take the form of a blackhead, whitehead, pustule, papule, cyst, or nodule.

4. How does diet affect Acne?
A: While foods do not cause acne, some can exacerbate it. Diets high in refined sugars or dairy products may be related to acne in some people.

5. How can Acne be treated?
A: Over-the-counter remedies can usually treat mild acne. Severe acne may require a dermatologist’s treatment. Treatment options include topical treatments (gels, creams, and lotions), antibiotic tablets, isotretinoin capsules, and in some cases, contraceptive pills for female patients.

6. At what age is Acne most common?
A: While acne can present at any age, it is most commonly found in teenagers and young adults, and it can persist into the mid-20s or even early 30s for some.

7. What is a daily skincare routine for acne-prone skin?
A: A daily skincare routine should include washing the face twice a day with a gentle cleanser, followed by a non-comedogenic moisturizer, and a sunscreen during the day.

8. Can Acne be prevented?
A: While you can’t completely prevent acne, managing stress, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a regular skin care routine can help reduce its severity and frequency.

9. Are Acne scars treatable?
A: Yes, acne scars can be treated. Treatments may involve skin resurfacing or filler injections, depending upon the nature of the scars.

10. When should I see a dermatologist for Acne treatment?
A: If home treatments aren’t working, acne is severe, or dark patches or scars develop as a result of acne, it may be time to see a dermatologist.

Remember, always consult a medical professional or skin care specialist for reliable advice based on your individual needs.

Useful links

Acne is a common skin condition that happens when hair follicles under the skin become clogged. It’s a condition that affects the oil glands at the base of hair follicles and commonly affects the face, chest, and back. Adolescents and young adults are most impacted by acne but it can occur at any age. Factors contributing to acne include hormones, certain medications, diet, and stress. It can be successfully managed with proper skincare and treatments.

Here are some useful links to journal articles involving acne:


Remember, always consult with a healthcare provider or a dermatologist for personalized advice and treatment for acne.

Complications of Acne

Acne itself is not a life-threatening condition, but it can lead to various complications, which can broadly be categorized into physical and psychological implications:

1. Physical Complications:
Scarring: One of the most significant complications of acne is scarring. When acne goes away, it might leave scars, as well caused by picking or popping pimples. These can range from slight discolorations to deep pits.
Hyperpigmentation: Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) can leave dark spots on the skin after acne heals.
Infection: Severe acne can also cause skin infections.
Acne conglobata: This form of acne is a more severe bacterial infection that can lead to damage to your skin and scarring.

2. Psychological Complications:
Self-Esteem Issues: The appearance of acne, especially on the face, can lead to lowered self-esteem and negative body image.
Social Withdrawal: Due to lowered self-esteem, individuals may choose to withdraw from social interactions, leading to isolation.
Depression and Anxiety: If not addressed properly, the emotional impact of acne can lead to severe mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

These complications make it important to seek appropriate treatment for acne. If over-the-counter treatments do not work, one should consult a dermatologist. It’s also crucial to remember that acne does not define your worth, and everyone deserves to feel good in their own skin.

Home remedies of Acne

There are many home remedies you can use to help with acne:

1. Tea Tree Oil: Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, tea tree oil can help to reduce redness and inflammation. Apply a small amount to the affected area with a cotton ball.

2. Honey and Cinnamon: Mix together 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to create a paste. Apply this on your face or just the affected area and leave on for 10-20 minutes before washing it off.

3. Aloe Vera: Aloe vera has both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and can prove to be very effective in treating acne. Apply a small amount of aloe vera gel to the affected areas daily.

4. Green Tea: Green tea is high in antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and fight bacteria. Apply cooled green tea to your skin using a spray bottle or a cotton ball.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar: Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water. After cleansing, apply the mixture to the skin using a cotton ball. However, use it sparingly as it can dry out your skin.

6. Regular Exercise: Exercise not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, but it also helps regulate your hormones and reduces stress. Both of these can contribute to acne.

7. Drink Plenty of Water: Hydrating your body facilitates skin health.

8. Healthy Diet: Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish and nuts, can help. Same with fresh fruits and vegetables which are full of vitamins and antioxidants.

9. Zinc Supplements: Zinc helps fight bacteria and inflammation. Recent studies find oral zinc supplements effective.

Always remember to not pop your pimples as it can lead to scarring, and consult a dermatologist before beginning any new skin care regimen, especially if you have severe acne.

Please note that while these remedies work for many, they may not work for everyone due to different skin types and underlying health conditions.

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Last Update: January 4, 2024