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What is acne?

Acne results when excess oil from overactive sebaceous glands blocks pores, trapping bacteria, dirt, and dead cells inside. Bacteria proliferate within the blocked pore, leading to an infection.

There are many types of acne lesions, including blackheads (open comedos), whiteheads (closed comedos), pimples (pustules), and cystic acne.

Hormone fluctuations that occur with adolescence or pregnancy may aggravate the condition. Acne can appear anywhere on the body, but the condition most commonly appears on areas of the skin that have large pores with abundant, active oil glands such as the face, chest, and back.

Acne is a buildup of oil, microorganisms and dead skin cells in the hair follicles under the skin. When the hair follicle ruptures, the rupture triggers an "acne cascade," which inflames surrounding tissue. Androgens are a major influence on acne because they stimulate the hormone-sensitive sebaceous glands, which produce sebum. That's why you don't see acne before puberty. In women, birth control pills can either aggravate or improve acne. This probably depends on your response to progestin, one of the hormones used in many birth control pills. Greasy hair and skin products, perspiration, headbands and other things that can plug up pores make acne worse. Stress may trigger acne flare-ups. Squeezing pimples can make acne worse and more likely to leave scars.
Dr. Doris Day, MD
Dermatology
The complete medical name for acne is acne vulgaris. Vulgaris is Latin for “common” which aptly describes one of the most frequently diagnosed conditions worldwide. Other names that are often used to describe acne are: pimples, zits, lesions, bumps, breakouts, red spots, clogged pores, blackheads, whiteheads, and rash. Most people who suffer from acne feel that they are alone in their suffering and that no one has it as bad as they. The reality is that acne is a very common and often chronic medical condition of the hair follicles that line the skin and their associated oil-producing glands. It occurs most commonly on the face, especially in the area known as the “T zone,” which includes the forehead, nose, and chin. It can also involve the chest, back, arms, and buttocks. Certain parts of the body (such as the lips) will never get acne because they have no oil-producing glands. 
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Acne is an inflammatory skin problem, typically appearing on the face, scalp, neck, shoulders, chest, and back, and characterized by tender pimples, irritated skin, and clogged pores. While there is a genetic link to acne, it is also related to an increase in hormones called androgens (male sex hormones), which increase during puberty and cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more sedum. Hormonal changes related to birth control pills and pregnancy can also cause acne. But acne is not just for kids and young adults. More than 40 to 50 million Americans suffer with acne, as the skin disease continues into adulthood, even into the 30s and 40s, affecting both men and women alike.

One of the many functions of skin, the body’s largest organ, is to help detoxify your body. It’s not surprising that your body’s internal health is often reflected in the skin’s quality and tone. While acne can cause emotional anguish and possibly pitting and scarring of the skin, if you treat the condition quickly, it is rarely serious.
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Susan Evans
Dermatology
Acne is a condition that involves the hair follicles and the sebaceous glands that are connected to both the hair follicles and the pores of the skin. The sebaceous glands produce sebum, an oil that is produced to keep your skin soft, smooth, and waterproof. This oil combines with the dead skin cells that the body naturally sloughs off. These skin cells can block the pores and combine with dirt and bacteria, which causes the sebum to be blocked from distribution. The blocked sebum then causes the pores to swell and create a pimple. Just as acne is a problem for teens, adult acne is a problem for men and women, especially during times of hormonal imbalance, like pregnancy or perimenopause.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Acne is an inflammatory condition of the skin partially caused by increased sebum production and an abnormality of the bacteria found normally on the skin. The result can be red and enlarged areas on the skin, whiteheads or blackheads.

 

Jacob Teitelbaum
Integrative Medicine

Acne is more commonly know as zits or pimples. Over 85% of teenagers experience some degree of acne. It occurs when pores, which drain the oil producing glands in the skin, get blocked. These plugs form whiteheads (if under the skin) or blackheads (if the plug is visible). When the pore becomes blocked, it may get infected by skin bacteria, causing the red, inflamed pustular acne.

Acne usually begins along with the increased sex hormone production that accompanies puberty (e.g., DHEA, estrogen and testosterone). These hormones increase the production of skin oils (sebum) and the glands that make them, causing the acne to flare.

High sugar and carbs in the diet can stimulate increased levels of these hormones and increase acne formation. In addition, scratching or irritating a pimple causes it to get inflamed.

Acne is a common skin disease of the face, chest, back, and shoulders. Although it can occur in newborns, children, and adults, it is especially common during adolescence. At puberty, changes occur in the hair follicles, which can lead to clogging of the pores; this causes "blackheads" and "whiteheads" to form. Bacteria and oil (sebum) within the follicles can make the problem worse, resulting in red "pimples" and other inflamed skin lesions.   

Acne is a skin condition that includes pimples and cysts found most often on the face, back, and chest. These irritations are caused when dead skin cells, bacteria, and sebum (oil) clog the hair follicles in skin. When the follicles get clogged, sebum can't leave the pores; bacteria multiply and the follicle becomes inflamed, resulting in a pimple or cyst. Acne is quite common, especially in teenagers going through puberty--increased hormone production causes increased sebum production. It can be treated with a variety of medications, including topical and oral antibiotics. Although proper skin care can also help, acne is not caused by poor hygiene.
Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
Acne is a common skin disorder that occurs in two forms: superficial (acne vulgaris), which affects the hair follicles and oil-secreting glands of the skin and manifests as blackheads, whiteheads, and inflammation, and cystic (acne conglobata), a more severe form, with deep cyst formation and subsequent scarring. In both forms, the lesions occur predominantly on the face and, to a lesser extent, on the back, chest, and shoulders. These areas of the skin have more sebaceous glands that produce sebum, a mixture of oils and a wax that lubricates the skin and prevents the loss of water. 
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Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Dermatology
There are two types of acne: comedonal (blackheads or whiteheads) and inflammatory (pimples). Dermatologists diagnose acne as mild, moderate, or severe. (Do not be alarmed if a dermatologist refers to you one or two zits as "acne.". Doctors do not use the term "breakouts," so acne from our perspective does not necessarily mean chronically brokenout, oily skin.) Severe acne can consist of many papules (pimples) and deeper cysts (cystic acne).
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.