Acne, commonly referred to as pimples, blemishes, and zits, is a common skin condition that most people experience at some point in life, most often as teenagers.  Acne results when tiny openings in the skin become plugged.  Acne is treated with self-care measures, over-the-counter products, or professional medications from a doctor.


The skin has numerous small openings that contain hair follicles and sebaceous glands.  An oily substance (sebum) is produced by the sebaceous glands.  The sebum rises to the skin’s surface to moisturize the outer skin layer.


Acne is a common condition that the majority of people experience.  Acne develops when sebum and dead skin cells collect and plug a hair follicle.  Trapped bacteria multiply, leading to redness, swelling, and pus-filled bumps on the skin.


Adolescents and adults can develop acne on the face, shoulders, back, buttocks, and chest– places where oil glands are most active. Acne appears as inflamed bumps on the skin. 
There are a few types of acne: Blackhead
A blackhead is a clogged follicle that remains open with a darkened surface.
A whitehead is a clogged follicle that remains closed, producing a white bump on the skin.
A pimple results from inflammation that has moved under the skin.  A pimple can appear as a raised red bump or a raised red bump with a pus-filled top.
Cysts are infections that occur deep within the hair follicle.  A cyst feels like a lump beneath the skin.  Cysts can be large and painful.


A diagnoses of acne is made by a doctor based on the appearance of the skin.  Additional tests are usually not necessary.  In some cases, a cyst sample is examined to rule out a more serious staph infection.


There are many self-care measures to take to manage acne.  You should never try to squeeze or “pop” a pimple because it can lead to skin infection and scars.  Clean your face by gently washing it with a mild soap once or twice a day.  Avoid excessive cleansing or touching your face with your hands.  Avoid greasy or oily creams or make-up.  There are numerous over-the-counter blemish products to apply directly to the skin.  Such products contain medications, such as benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol or salicylic acid that fight bacteria and dry the skin.

Am I at Risk

Acne develops most frequently in teenagers because of hormonal changes, although acne can occur at any age.  Females may develop acne in association with their menstrual period or birth control related hormonal changes.  Other risk factors for acne include:

• Pregnancy
• Heredity. If your parents had acne, you have a higher risk of developing the skin condition.
• Skin Friction
• Oily products (cosmetics) applied to the skin
• Certain medications, such as steroids, birth control pills, or testosterone
• Significant sweating and humidity


Significant acne can lead to scarring.  For some people, acne can contribute to poor self-esteem.

Copyright © 2015 – iHealthSpot, Inc. –

This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Author Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on 8-26-2015.

iMedWorks Ask Platform Links below:

1. Get a Medical Second Opinion
2. Search doctors and Request Appointment

You might also be interested in

What to do if you are choking and there’s no one around to help

Most people more or less understand what they have to do to if they see someone choking. But what's the ...
Read More

Difference between heart attack and cardiac arrest

People often think that a heart attack is the same thing as a cardiac arrest. This, however, is not true ...
Read More

Suicide prevention

Magnitude of the problem Suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for all ages. Every year, ...
Read More