Overview of Acne

Acne is a skin condition that commonly presents in teenagers as lesions called pimples or blackheads. The pimples can be superficial or deep, are often filled with pus, and typically appear on the face, neck, shoulders, upper chest, and back.

Most acne clears up after adolescence, but it may continue, or even begin, in adulthood. Severe, untreated acne may produce scarring.

An increase in hormones called androgens causes sebaceous or oil glands in the skin to enlarge and produce more oil. If these glands become blocked, blackheads or pimples can develop and become infected by bacteria, causing the condition's characteristic inflammatory reactions and pustules.

In adults, acne can result from a reaction to corticosteriods. In women, it may occur as a result of hormonal changes and can worsen during menstruation and pregnancy.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 01 Jan 2001

Last Modified: 26 Aug 2015