Understanding Acne Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Acne?

The symptoms of acne are:

  • Persistent, recurrent red spots or swelling on the skin, generally known as pimples; the swelling may become inflamed and fill with pus. They typically appear on the face, chest, shoulders, neck, or upper portion of the back.
  • Dark spots with open pores at the center (blackheads)
  • Tiny white bumps under the skin that have no obvious opening (whiteheads)
  • Red swellings or lumps (known as papules) that are visibly filled with pus
  • Nodules or lumps under the skin that are inflamed, fluid-filled, and often tender; these nodules may become as large as an inch across.

Call Your Doctor About Acne If:

  • Your acne makes you unhappy or uncomfortable
  • Your acne is producing scars
  • Acne is causing dark patches to appear
  • You have severe acne, which may produce nodules under the skin and persistent pimples; a dermatologist may recommend prescription drugs to control the condition and prevent permanent scars.
  • Your acne doesn't respond to over-the-counter remedies; you may need medical treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on March 09, 2017


American Academy of Dermatology.
The Merck Manual, Seventeenth Edition.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMSD).


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