What is Acne?

Welcome to acne-faq.org, your source for answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) about acne. In these pages you'll find helpful and informative facts about acne symptoms, causes, treatment, and more.

Acne is a common skin disorder characterized by a red-rash skin appearance. The most common form is known as acne vulgaris. Acne is a disorder resulting from the action of hormones on the skin's oil glands (sebaceous glands), which leads to plugged pores and outbreaks of lesions commonly called pimples or zits.

Acne lesions usually occur on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Nearly 17 million people in the United States have acne, making it the most common skin disease. Although acne is not a serious health threat, severe acne can lead to disfiguring, permanent scarring, which can be upsetting to people who are affected by the disorder.

Who gets Acne? Nearly everyone has a bout of acne at some point in their lives. Acne is more common in males during childhood and adolescence. Conversely, acne is more common in women during adulthood. Nearly 85 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 develop the disorder. For most people, acne tends to go away by the time they reach their thirties; however, some people in their forties and fifties continue to have this skin problem.

When is it serious? Though many teenagers may disagree, having acne is not a tragedy unless you make it. It is often just a matter of waiting and letting the problem resolve itself. In the vast majority of cases, acne is not a life-threatening phenomena. However, there are cases in which you should think about seeking medical care from a professional. As always, a full medical checkup including relevant history and blood-work may be needed.

  • If you start to develop lots of scarring due to acne, there may be other problems that you may not know about. You should see a physician to discuss this.
  • Prolonged use of over-the-counter acne medications is also not recommended. If these medications do not seem to help at all, you may need to seek help.
  • Sudden and severe cases of acne with constitutional symptoms (fevers, lethargy) may indicate a serious infection that may not be acne-related at all.
  • If you are known to have an endocrine problem, you may want to seek medical attention. For example, women who display masculine features including deepening of the voice, facial hair, irregular menstrual cycles and other androgen related problems.

Psychosocial Impact. In some people, acne has caused a tremendous amount of psychological trauma that affects mood and outlook on life. Some of the things seen by people with severe acne include: decreased self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, feelings of shame and inadequacy, embarrassment, depression, social withdrawal, frustration, anger, reclusivity, etc. A combination of all these things can lead to an overall poor body image and a feeling of losing control of life. Some teenagers have been shown to react to this acne frustration by rebelling. Negative outlook on life can affect people socially, professionally and in school.

Related Conditions Acne Symptoms
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