Alternate Names : Acne Vulgaris, Pimples
Acne is a common skin condition in which the hair follicles become clogged with
sebum. The hair follicles are the openings around the hair shaft, and sebum is
the oil produced by the glands within the follicle. The clogged follicles cause
pimples and inflamed infected abscesses, or collections of pus.
What is going on in the body?
Acne tends to develop in teenagers because of an interaction among hormones,
sebum, and bacteria. During puberty, the glands in the skin produce excessive
sebum. In acne-prone skin, the sebum and dead skin cells clog the hair
follicles and form comedones, or clogged pores.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Acne is caused by 4 factors:
hormones, particularly the hormone called androgen
increased production of sebum, the oily substance within the hair
changes in the lining of the hair follicles
bacteria, including organisms that normally live on the skin surface. When
these bacteria are trapped within the hair follicles, they can cause infections
and inflame the follicles.
Virtually every adolescent experiences some comedones.
Generally, acne starts at about age 10 to 13, and lasts for 5 to 10 years. Around
the age of 14 or 15, 40% of adolescents have acne that is serious enough to require a
visit to a healthcare provider. Acne occurs in both male and female adolescents,
but males are more likely to have a severe form of acne. Some people
develop acne for the first time as an adult.
Certain forms of acne tend to run in families. If an adolescent's parents or
older siblings have severe acne, the adolescent has a higher risk of developing
Risk factors for development or worsening of acne include the following:
makeup and skin care products, which can clog the hair follicles
menstrual cycles in
females. A female is more likely to have flare-ups of acne around the time of
her period, when her glands are more sensitive to the hormone androgen.
airborne grease, such as in a fast-food restaurant
routine exposure to products, such as motor oil in an automotive
rubbing and friction of the skin by hair, clothing, or sporting