Acne is the most frequently diagnosed skin condition in the United States. It is characterized by pimples that appear on the face, back and chest. Every year, about 80% of adolescents have some form of acne and about 5% of adults experience acne.
Types of Acne
Acne is made up of two types of blemishes:
- Whiteheads/Blackheads, also known as comedones, are non-inflammatory and appear more on the face and shoulders. As long as they remain uninfected, they are unlikely to lead to scarring.
- Red Pustules or Papules are inflamed pores that fill with pus. These can lead to scarring.
Try not to pick or scratch at individual lesions — it can make them inflamed and can lead to long-term scarring.
- Dan Viders, M.D.Dermatologist and Medical Director, Auburn Dermatology
What Causes Acne?
In normal skin, oil glands under the skin, known as sebaceous glands, produce an oily substance called sebum. The sebum moves from the bottom to the top of each hair follicle and then spills out onto the surface of the skin, taking with it sloughed-off skin cells.
With acne, the structure through which the sebum flows gets clogged. This blockage traps sebum and sloughed-off cells below the skin, preventing them from being released onto the skin’s surface. If the pore’s opening is fully blocked, this produces a whitehead. If the pore’s opening is open or partially blocked, this produces blackheads. When either a whitehead or blackhead becomes inflamed, they can become red pustules or papules.