What is acne?

Acne treatment options can include lifestyle changes, topical antibiotics, medications, light treatment, and more.
Acne treatment options can include lifestyle changes, topical antibiotics, medications, light treatment, and more.

Acne is a medical condition affecting the oil glands and hair follicles on the skin. The skin bears tiny openings (skin pores) that connect to the oil glands under the skin.

These glands make an oily substance (sebum). The oil glands connect to the skin pores via narrow canals called follicles. Thin hair grows through the follicles toward the outside of the skin. 

Acne occurs when the follicles become clogged with sebum and dead skin cells. The bacteria present can cause inflammation that can be seen as redness, bumps, and pimples.

Acne is mainly seen on the forehead, face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Acne is usually not a dangerous condition, but it can cause emotional stress and scarring. Although anyone can get acne, it is most commonly seen in teens and young adults.

What causes acne?

There are several myths and sayings about the cause of acne such as dirty skin, stress, and certain foods (junk food and chocolates). None of the studies so far have proven any scientific basis for such claims. Although the exact cause of acne is unknown, some factors are proposed to play an important role in causing acne:

  • Change in hormonal levels
  • Certain medications (such as steroids)
  • Wearing heavy or greasy cosmetics
  • Hereditary (family history of acne)

For people who have acne, certain triggers may worsen the condition:

  • High humidity
  • Pollution
  • Touching, squeezing, or picking at pimples
  • Pressure or friction on the skin due to bike helmets, backpacks, or tight collars
  • Rough scrubbing of the skin
  • Stress

Are acne and pimples the same?

Although the terms acne and pimples are used interchangeably, pimples are simply one of the many symptoms of acne. Acne manifests as several symptoms, which include the following:

  • Whiteheads (closed and clogged pores)
  • Blackheads (clogged pores that are open)
  • Papules (small red and painful bumps)
  • Pimples (pus-filled papules)
  • Nodules (big, firm, and painful lumps under the skin)
  • Cysts (deep, painful, pus-filled bumps under the skin)

What is the best acne treatment?

You must consult your doctor to know what treatment will be best for your acne. The best treatment depends upon the cause of acne and associated factors, such as your age and severity of acne.

The treatment options for acne include the following:

  • Lifestyle management:
    • Never pick or squeeze pimples
    • Get regular sleep
    • Maintain a healthy weight
    • Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet
    • Wash the affected areas once or twice a day with gentle cleansers
    • Avoid greasy or oily skin products and cosmetics
    • Shower after exercise or other strenuous activities
    • Avoid pressure or friction on the skin
  • Topical (externally applied) antibiotic medications, such as creams and gels containing antibiotic medications such as erythromycin, clindamycin, sulfacetamide, azelaic acid, and dapsone
  • Topical retinoids, such as adapalene and tretinoin
  • Oral medications:
  • Topical tea tree oil

QUESTION

Acne is the result of an allergy. See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 8/6/2020
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