Acne is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles get clogged with oil and dead cells. It often causes pimples, blackheads or pimples, and usually appears on the face, forehead, chest, upper back and shoulders. Acne is more common among teenagers, although it affects people of all ages.

There are effective treatments available, but acne can be persistent. Grains and bumps heal slowly, and when one begins to disappear, others seem to emerge.

Depending on its severity, acne can cause emotional distress and heal the skin. The earlier treatment begins, the lower the risk of such problems.


Acne signs and symptoms vary depending on the severity of your condition:

  • Whiteheads (closed plugged pores)
  • Blackheads (open plugged pores)
  • Small red, tender bumps (papules)
  • Pimples (pustules), which are papules with pus at their tips
  • Large, solid, painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin (nodules)
  • Painful, pus-filled lumps beneath the surface of the skin (cystic lesions)


Four main factors cause acne:

  • Excess oil production
  • Hair follicles clogged by oil and dead skin cells
  • Bacteria
  • Excess activity of a type of hormone (androgens)

Acne usually appears on the face, forehead, chest, upper back and shoulders because these areas of the skin have the most sebaceous glands. The hair follicles are connected to the sebaceous glands.

The follicle wall may bulge and produce a white dot. Or the plug may be open to the surface and darken, causing a black dot. A black dot can be seen as dirt trapped in the pores. But in reality the pore is congested with bacteria and oil, which turns brown when exposed to air.

Pimples are raised red spots with a white center that develop when blocked hair follicles become inflamed or infected with bacteria. The blockages and inflammation that develop inside the hair follicles produce bumps similar to cysts beneath the surface of the skin. Other pores in the skin, which are the openings of the sweat glands, are generally not involved in acne.