Acne: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment


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What is acne?

Acne is a common disease affecting more than 85 % of the teenagers and young adults. This skin condition develops when the hair follicles of the skin become clogged with oil and dead cells. The areas most affected in the body by acne are the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms.

The different types of acne are blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, nobules and cysts.

This skin condition can be highly persistent, often crowding on various areas of the skin.

Depending on its severity, acne may leave unsightly scars on the skin, which can be emotionally distressing.  
Therefore, it would be wise to consult a dermatologist early, right at the onset of this condition, before it causes significant physical and emotional scarring.

How does acne occur?

Our skin has tiny pores which connect to the oil glands beneath the skin. Small canals called follicles connect the pores to the glands. Each of these follicles have a hair growing through it.  The oil glands secrete sebum, which is an oily substance. The sebum carries the dead skin cells through the follicles, up to the surface of the skin.

The follicles may get blocked when the body produces too much sebum and dead cells. This creates a perfect ground for bacteria to thrive. Once infected with bacteria, inflammation results, causing pimples to erupt on the surface of the skin.

There can be may reasons behind the increased oil production in the body and acne outbreaks on the skin, such as:

  • living in hot and humid climates

  • undergoing stress

  • hormonal changes during adolescence, causing androgen levels to rise, which makes oil glands grow under the skin

  • menstruation in women causing hormonal fluctuations

  • hormonal changes related to use of contraceptive pills

  • using oily face creams and cosmetics

  • hair dyes and greasy hair products

  • wearing rough clothing which rubs against your back and chest

  • excessive sweating after exercising

Who is prone to acne?

You are at an increased risk of developing acne if you :

  • are a teenager as teenagers undergo hormonal changes

  • a woman nearing the time of your monthly menses, which is when hormone fluctuations happen

  • take certain medications (corticosteroids, lithium, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, androgenic steroids, DHEA, and medications that contain bromides or iodides) make you prone to developing acne

  • are under a lot of stress

  • use unclean and unhygienic makeup tools

  • use greasy creams and lotions

  • use greasy hair care products and hair dyes which can clog pores

  • are a pregnant women undergoing hormonal changes

  • are using birth control pills which can cause hormonal changes

  • are someone with a family history of acne

  • use oily lotions and creams or work in a grease-filled area

  • keep picking on your existing acne, which aggravates the condition

What are the symptoms of acne?

Depending on the severity of the condition, the acne symptoms may vary from person to person. The common symptoms are:

  • clogged pores (pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads)
  • papules (small red, tender bumps)
  • pustules (pimples or raised lesions with pus )
  • cysts (nodules filled with pus or fluid)

How is acne diagnosed?

There are no special tests performed for the diagnosis of acne. Indeed, some people do not visit a doctor at all for acne treatment.
In cases of frequent acne outbursts, the doctor may ask you your medical history, and perform a simple physical examination

However, if the acne is severe and persistent your doctor, depending on the severity of your condition, may prescribe certain tests to find out, if the acne is a symptom to an underlying condition. For example, hormonal imbalance in women, such as higher than normal amounts of testosterone, could result in acne.

What are the complications of acne?

Acne scarring is one of the most common complications. It occurs when the nodules and cysts burst, rupturing the skin, and leaving behind a permanent unsightly scar. Scarring can also occur if you keep squeezing your pimples. The main types of scars are:

  • Ice pick scars: these look like small but deep holes that have been punctured on the surface of the skin using a sharp object.
  • Rolling scars: are formed when scar tissue develops forming bands and making the skin look uneven.
  • Boxcar scars: are like depressions or craters in the skin.

What is the treatment for acne?

Depending on the severity of your condition your dermatologist may prescribe various kinds of treatments which are currently available for acne such as:

More Topics Related to Acne Treatment

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Would you like to consult a doctor for Acne ?

Patient Experiences

Post Acne Marks Disappeared
My acne and post acne marks always troubled me and I had been taking treatment at oliva now. My existing acne is no more.even my post acne marks came down.I thank oliva....Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. T N Rekha Singh
Oliva Hair Transplantation and Cosmetic Surgery Clinic (Jubliee Hills)
abhishek gandhi
Chemical Peeling Treatment
I am undergoing Chemical peeling treatment from Dr vijay,it is an amazing treatment only if u r taking it from well experienced doctor like Dr of my friend took the same treatment from some another clinic and it was a waste. But Dr vijay gave me 100% results.thanks ...Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Vijay Nagdev
The Skin Doctors
Aakriti Sharma
Effective Microdermabrasion Treatment for Acne
Good experience!PRP ,microdermabrasion treatment all were done with precision and care . Wanted a better result.But,its fine...Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Pooja Gupta
Skin Care Clinic & Hair Transplant Centre

Questions answered by trusted doctors

Verified User
I am suffering from pimple with pus wrinkle and fine lines.My skin is looking dull and older than I am.
Dr. Manoj Waghmare
Dermatologist, Nagpur
Pimples/ acne is a chronic problem and happens because of chronic the harmonal reasons. It also requires a long term treatment and Maintainence as well. Sometimes harmonal treatment need to be added. So it will be better to get yourself examined by a dermatologist and treated.
Dr. Nitin G Barde
Dermatologist, Nagpur
You need to visit dermatologist. Acne fine lines all have treatment which definitely help you to recover from these things easily and fast.
Verified User
I have acne since teenage and doing treatment since then. I have oily skin. Now my Dr. Is giving me acutret 40 mg and now my skin has become dry but I m facing severe hair fall . But still I m not satisfied with my skin as it has scars n few pimples n very uneven skin tone.
Dr. Meeta Desai
Dermatologist, Ahmedabad
Dryness and hair fall can happen with isotretinoin. Take vit e and biotin supplement. Scars would need laser or Dermaroller but only after 6 months of stopping this drug. Have faith in your self and your doctor.
Ask health queries and get free answers from doctors in 24 hrs

Did you know?

Very common among teens

85% of the teenagers and two-third of adults aged 18 years and older suffer from acne in India.

More common in boys

Acne is more common and severe in boys, than girls, in India.

Global surge in acne cases

Adult acne is 200% on the rise globally, due to stress, poor diets and pollution.

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Home Remedies

Apply Apple Cider Vinegar

Wash your face with water and gently dry. Create a mix of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Using some cotton apply the vinegar directly onto the acne or the blemishes bothering you. Leave it overnight and wash off the area in the morning with lukewarm water. If you choose, you can apply this solution several times a day, washing it off after around 10 to 15 minutes. The vinegar could make your skin dry, so apply some moisturizer on the area after washing it.

Apply Papaya Paste

Mash some papaya and apply it on the acne affected areas. Papaya cleanses your skin by removing dead skin cells and excess lipids, leaving it supple and smooth. Papaya also contains an enzyme called papain, which is anti-inflammatory and prevents the formation of pus in acne.

Apply Orange Peel Powder Paste

Next time, instead of throwing away the orange peels, dry them in the sun for a couple of days and then grind them. Add a little water to the orange peel powder, to create a paste apply the paste on the acne affected areas of your skin. Leave it on the skin till it becomes completely dry. After around 30 to 45 minutes wash it off with lukewarm water and apply some moisturizer.

Apply Tea-Tree Oil

Dilute tea tree oil by mixing 1 part oil to 9 parts water. Dip a cotton swab in this mixture, and apply to the acne affected areas. Never apply undiluted tea tree oil. Leave it on the area for 15 - 20 minutes. Wash it off with lukewarm water and apply a moisturizer afterwards.

Apply Lemon Juice

Apply some freshly squeezed lemon juice on the acne affected areas and leave it on for 15 - 20 minutes. Wask it off with lukewarm water and apply a moisturizer.