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:
“Try not to pick or scratch at individual lesions — it can make them inflamed and can lead to long-term scarring.”
- 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.
– 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.