Learn About Ailments | Acne


Acne encompasses a group of skin rashes, the most common types being acne vulgaris and acne rosacea. Spots form in sebaceous glands of the skin, usually on the face, shoulders and upper back. This is usually caused by the skin over-reacting to hormone levels.


In This Article
Watch the acne video Causes of Acne
Symptoms of Acne Diagnosis of acne
Related Acne terms Common Misspellings

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Did you know?
  • 85% of people aged 12-24 have acne
  • 80% of teenagers will have acne
  • Acne is experienced by one in four adults aged 25-44 years-old
  • Acne typically starts at the age of 11 for girls
  • For boys, acne begins around the age of 13

During puberty in both boys and girls, acne is due to an over-sensitivity to the male hormone testosterone. The skin has sebaceous glands which secrete a substance called 'sebum' -  testosterone can cause an excess of this substance. When the skin's cells divide rapidly they can block the opening of hair follicles resulting in a build up of sebum. It's this blockage which produces spots (whiteheads and blackheads).

Another cause of acne is the changing acid levels within the skin during puberty. This causes bacteria to grow and become trapped in the hair follicles. This deep bacterial infection becomes a pustule or nodule.

Other causes of acne include:
  • Hereditary factors - Acne can have a genetic cause and may run in families.
  • Stress can cause sweating and people also tend to rub their faces – both can increase bacteria levels.
  • Female hormonal changes such as during menstruation can cause outbreaks of acne.
  • Contraceptives, epilepsy medications and corticosteroids can aggravate acne.
  • Chemical exposure to dioxins can trigger an acne condition known as chloracne.
A common myth is that fatty or greasy foods can cause acne but this is not the case. The same can be said for eating chocolate. That said, both foods should be eaten in moderation anyway and should they trigger an outbreak of acne it would be advisable to stop eating them to see if the acne clears up. Personal hygiene is also not a cause of acne but failure to wash the face or take make-up off can result in bacteria multiplying on the skin.

Spots are the predominant symptom of acne. Acne can appear on the face, behind the ears, neck, back, shoulders and buttocks as these are the parts of the body which have large numbers of sebaceous glands.

There are different types of spot which can be experienced with acne:

Blackheads are blocked pores. The black colour of a blackhead is due to skin pigment and not trapped dirt.

One of the common types of spot experienced with acne, the whitehead is small, firm and is white in the centre.

Pustules are another common acne spot. The spot is filled with a white pus which turns yellow as healing takes place and usually has a red and inflamed outer-edge.

Nodules are the painful lumps under the skin and most common in people with severe cases of acne. Nodules are clustered together and can leave scarring after they heal.

The appearance of spots on the skin is usually sufficient enough for a diagnosis of acne to be made. Depending on the type of spots that have appeared, how inflamed those spots are and the level of pain experienced will help your GP diagnose the severity of acne.

When attending a GP consultation remove any make-up so they can make a proper assessment of the skin. The GP may discuss family history and any remedies or treatments you have tried. Be prepared to discuss how the acne makes you feel psychologically and emotionally (i.e. embarrassment, upset, low self-confidence).

  • Acne vulgaris
  • Androgen
  • Papules
  • Comedones
  • Pimples
  • Zits
  • Teenagers

Acnee, Acny, Acane, Acnne, Akne, Ance, Acne Treetments

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