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What Is Acne

Step 1: A clogged pore: As mammals, our bodies are covered in microscopic hairs. Acne begins when the pores that contain these hairs get clogged. No one knows exactly why this occurs, but the researchers here at Acne.org are committed to advancing the science on this front.

Step 2: Non-inflamed lesions: Once a pore is clogged, skin oil that normally drains to the surface gets trapped. At this point, the clogged pore becomes visible and looks like a small, non-inflamed white or black dot on the skin, called a whitehead or a blackhead.

Step 3: Inflamed lesions: Inside the whitehead or blackhead, bacteria feeds on the trapped oil, which can weaken the wall of the pore, causing the pore to break under the skin. This causes the body to react with inflammation, which creates a red and sore, raised acne lesion called a papule to develop. Papules normally fill with pus and are then called pustules, that many people refer to simply as a "zit." Cystic lesions: Sometimes a pore completely explodes deep within the skin, causing larger, painful, long-lasting, and often-scarring lesions called nodules and cysts.
 

Latest in What Is Acne

Emotional/Psychological How Are Acne and Depression Related? Acne and depression are correlated, which means that acne can make depression worse and depression may also worsen acne. But there is not yet a definitive cause-and-effect relationship from the studies we have. Still, common sesne tells us that clearing up the skin obviously leads to lighter moods. May 29, 2020
Emotional/Psychological How Acne Affects Self-Esteem As one might expect, acne negatively affects self-esteem in both males and females and in both teens and adults. However, as a whole, it appears that females may experience these feelings more acutely. Effectively treating acne can improve self-esteem in everyone. May 28, 2020
What Is Acne What Is a Whitehead? People sometimes confuse the word "whitehead" with a "zit" or "pimple" that is red and sore and has a white center. But a whitehead is actually just an initial non-inflamed clogged pore that shows up as a small white or skin-colored bump on the skin that is not red or sore. May 12, 2020
What Is Acne What Is Sebum and What Is Its Purpose? Sebum is the medical term for skin oil that coats the skin and hair of all mammals, including humans. More sebum usually means more acne, but sebum also prevents water loss from the skin, regulates inflammation, fights microbes, and distributes antioxidants and pheromones on the skin. April 26, 2020
What Is Acne What Is an Acne Pustule? Pustules are what people normally refer to as "zits." They are slightly raised, red, sore lesions that are filled with white/yellow pus. They develop from a clogged pore that fills with skin oil and bacteria. They normally stay on the skin for only a few days, and can be popped when they are ready. April 26, 2020
What Is Acne What Is an Acne Nodule? Nodules are large, red, painful acne lesions that form after a pore bursts and expels its contents deep into the skin, resulting in a severe inflammatory reaction. They are firm, fibrous lesions that do not contain pus and should never be squeezed or try to be popped. April 26, 2020
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