Understanding Acne: Its causes, location, psychological effects, treatment

You have company — acne affects almost everyone. It strikes nearly 85% of the population between the ages of 12 and 24. 40% of acne sufferers have breakouts severe enough to require medical treatment.

Acne doesn’t show favorites. Men and women of all races during adolescence and adulthood are nearly equally prone to acne.


It’s a widespread skin condition characterized by lesions that break out on the skin. The lesions form as whiteheads, blackheads, or cysts because pores get clogged.

The so-called ‘T zone’ of the face — the nose, the chin and forehead — are the most common areas for pimples to appear. The back is the second most common area for acne, followed by the neck, chest, and shoulders.


Usually acne first attacks during adolescence, most often at puberty because that’s when the body starts producing an abundance of an oily substance called sebum. Normally a good thing, sebum keeps the hair and skin soft and lubricated. But during puberty, the body produces too much. The excess oil clogs the pores and leaves the skin feeling oily.

Puberty also triggers an excess production of follicle cells. Dying cells quickly build up and combine with sebum to form whiteheads. The oil and dead cell creates a breeding ground for bacteria that creates redness and swelling in the area resulting in pimples.

A Bad Image

Acne becomes a self-image difficulty for many people because it affects their appearance. Teenagers are particularly at risk as acne can cause feelings of reduced self-confidence and even depression. It causes some to withdraw from social interactions and others become angry and troubled.

Most people find their acne has cleared up by the time they reach their 20s. Although for some it can last throughout their adult years.


The good news is there are many modern medical treatments for acne. The first line of defense is to keep the skin clean and oil-free. Do this by gently washing with soap and water twice a day, especially following activities or conditions that cause perspiration. There is a wide variety of medical treatments available, both prescribed and over-the-counter.

For serious cases, a dermatologist is needed for advice about nutrition, lifestyle changes, topical medications, and antibiotics that fight the bacteria causing pimples.

Don’t just look in the mirror and cringe. Fight back!

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