Acne Vulgaris: Signs & Symptoms

Acne refers to a condition in which your hair follicles are clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Acne can cause whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples. Acne is more common in teenagers than it is in adults, but it can affect anyone of any age.

Although there are effective acne treatments, it is possible to have persistent acne. Pimples and bumps tend to heal slowly and then others appear to grow. Acne can cause emotional distress or scarring depending on its severity. You have a lower chance of developing these problems if you get treatment early.

Signs & Symptoms

Your condition may cause acne signs that vary in severity:

  • Whiteheads (closed, plugged pores).
  • Blackheads (open, plugged pores).
  • Papalles are small, tender bumps that appear reddish and tender.
  • Pimples (pustules) are papules that have pus at the tips.
  • Nodules are large, solid, and painful lumps that appear under the skin.
  • Cystic lesions are painful, pus-filled lumps that appear under the skin.
  • Acne is most commonly found on the forehead, chest, forehead, chest and upper back.

When should you see a doctor?

Your primary care physician should be consulted if self-care methods fail to clear your skin. Your primary care doctor may prescribe stronger medication. You may need to see a dermatologist or pediatric dermatologist if your acne persists or becomes severe. Many women suffer from acne for years, sometimes with flares that last a week or more before their period. Contraceptives tend to make this type of acne disappear. A sudden appearance of severe acne in older adults could indicate an underlying condition that requires medical attention.

FDA warns that certain popular, non-prescription acne products, cleansers and skin products can cause serious reactions. This reaction is rare and should not be confused with redness, irritation, or itching that may occur in areas where medications or products have been applied.

If you have any skin reactions after using a product, seek emergency medical attention.

There are four main causes of acne:

  • Excessive oil (sebum production)
  • Oil and dead skin cells can clog hair follicles
  • Bacteria
  • Inflammation

Acne is most common on the forehead, chest and upper back. This is because these areas have the highest oil glands (sebaceous). Oil glands are linked to hair follicles.

A whitehead may form when the follicle wall bulges. The plug could also be exposed to the surface, which can cause a darkening of the skin. The blackhead can look like dirt trapped in pores. The pore is actually congested with bacteria, oil and turns brown when exposed to air.

Pimples are red bumps with a white center. They develop when the hair follicles get inflamed with bacteria or become blocked. Cyst-like lumps form beneath your skin’s surface when there is inflammation and blockage deep within the hair follicles. Acne is not usually caused by other pores on your skin. These are the openings in the sweat glands.

Some things can trigger or worsen acne

  • Hormonal changes. Androgens, hormones that are increased in girls and boys during puberty, cause the glands to produce more sebum and enlarge. Breakouts can also be caused by hormonal changes in midlife, especially for women.
  • Some medications. Some examples include medications containing corticosteroids or testosterone, as well as lithium.
  • Certain foods such as chips, bread, bagels, and bagels can worsen acne according to studies. More research is required to determine if people suffering from acne would benefit from following certain dietary restrictions.
  • Although stress doesn’t cause acne (if you already have it), stress can make it worse.
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