Skin Conditions and Acne

Most people develop acne -- the most common skin condition -- to some degree, but it primarily affects teenagers undergoing hormonal changes.

Acne may be mild (few, occasional pimples), moderate (inflammatory papules), or severe (nodules and cysts). Treatment depends on the severity of the condition.

Adult Skin Problems: See Pictures of Blackheads and Whiteheads

What Causes Acne?

Acne is primarily a hormonal condition driven by male or ‘androgenic’ hormones, which typically become active during the teenage years. Sensitivity to such hormones, combined with bacteria on the skin, and fatty acids within oil glands, cause acne. Common sites for acne are the face, chest, shoulders, and back -- the sites of oil glands.

Acne lesions include whiteheads, blackheads, small bumps, and nodules and cysts.

Though acne is essentially a normal physiologic occurrence, certain conditions may aggravate the condition, including:

  • Fluctuating hormone levels around the time of menses (women)
  • Manipulating (picking/prodding) acne lesions
  • Clothing (for example, hats and sports helmets) and headgear

How Is Acne Treated?

Only three types of drugs have proven to be effective for the treatment of acne -- antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, and retinoids. Most people require at least one or two agents, depending on the severity of their acne.

 

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How Can Acne Be Prevented?

To prevent acne and reduce its damage to your skin, follow these tips.

  • Choose a cleanser specially formulated for acne. These products often contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which help to clear acne sores.
  • Clean your face gently, as trauma to the acne breakouts may worsen the acne or cause scarring. When washing your face, use your hands or cotton pads, as any terrycloth or other scrubbing material may cause acne sores to rupture.
  • If you need to use a moisturizer, use only light, noncomedogenic moisturizers, which do not aggravate acne.
  • If you are a woman, use an oil-free foundation. Heavy makeup or other cosmetic products that block pores may cause a flare-up of acne.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on November 2, 2018

Sources

SOURCE: American Academy of Dermatology.

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