Acne: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 5/28/2020

Acne is a form of skin inflammation. It typically develops when oil (sebaceous) glands become active around the time of puberty.

Signs and symptoms of acne can include

  • whiteheads (closed plugged pores),
  • blackheads (open plugged pores),
  • small red, tender bumps (papules), and
  • pimples (pustules, which are papules with pus at their tips).

In some cases, large, solid, painful lumps may form beneath the surface of the skin (nodules) or painful, pus-filled lumps beneath the surface of the skin (cystic lesions).

Cause of abdominal aortic aneurysm

Overactivity of the oil glands at the base of specialized hair follicles causes acne. When the oil glands become blocked in their opening to the skin, there is a buildup of oil underneath the skin. Bacteria, which live on everyone's skin, grow in this oil, causing the surrounding tissues to become inflamed if the follicle ruptures.

Other acne symptoms and signs

  • Blackheads (Open Plugged Pores)
  • Pimples (Pustules, Which Are Papules With Pus at Their Tips)
  • Small Red, Tender Bumps (Papules)
  • Whiteheads (Closed Plugged Pores)


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.