Acne is a skin condition that causes blemishes and pimples, especially on the face, shoulders, back, neck, chest, and upper arms. It occurs when oil and dead skin block hair follicles, causing inflammation.
Fast facts on acne
- Acne is a skin disease involving the oil glands at the base of hair follicles.
- It affects 3 in every 4 people aged 11 to 30 years.
- It is not dangerous, but it can leave skin scars.
- Treatment depends on how severe and persistent it is.
- Risk factors include genetics, the menstrual cycle, anxiety and stress, hot and humid climates, using oil-based makeup, and squeezing pimples.
Human skin has pores that connect to sebaceous glands under the skin. The follicles connect the glands to the pores. Follicles are small sacs that produce and secrete fluid.
The glands produce an oily fluid called sebum. Sebum carries dead skin cells through the follicles to the skin’s surface. A small hair grows through the follicle out of the skin.
Blackheads grow when these follicles become clogged and oil accumulates under the skin.
Skin, sebum and hair cells can clump together in a plug. This plug becomes infected with bacteria and swells. A pimple begins to develop when the plug begins to break.
Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) is the name of the bacteria that lives on the skin and contributes to the infection of pimples.
Research suggests that the severity and frequency of acne depend on the strain of bacteria. Not all acne bacteria cause pimples. A strain helps keep the skin free of blackheads.
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