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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

Comedogenicity What Do "Comedogenic" and "Non-comedogenic" Mean? Comedogenic means a product or ingredient is likely to clog pores, which can lead to breakouts. Non-comedogenic means a product or ingredient is not likely to clog pores. Many companies use the term "non-comedogenic" on their products, but this term is not regulated by the FDA. February 26,2019
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. February 24,2019
Emotional/Psychological Skin Picking Picking at the skin delays healing and causes a dramatically increased chance of scarring from acne. Whatever you do, DO NOT PICK at your skin. If you find that you cannot stop yourself, seek professional help. February 25,2019
Emotional/Psychological Acne Dysmorphia Acne dysmorphia is a rare but debilitating mental illness, linked to body dysmorphic disorder, and similar in psychiatric terms to Anorexia Nervosa. People with acne dysmorphia feel obsessed with skin imperfections and often damage their skin through picking. May 13,2019
Ethnic Skin Acne Asian Skin and Acne Asian people, like all ethnicities, commonly suffer from acne, but Asian people may have slightly less acne than other ethnicities. Asian skin tends to be prone to hyperpigmentation, which are the red/dark marks that are left after acne lesions heal. February 23,2019
Ethnic Skin Acne Black Skin and Acne Black people, like all ethnicities, suffer from acne at a high rate. Black people also contend with raised scarring, including keloid scarring, more than other... February 23,2019
Ethnic Skin Acne Latino Skin and Acne Latino people experience high levels of acne, just like all other ethnicities. However, Latino people may experience more severe lesions and scarring when compared to other non-Caucasian groups. Latino people tend to experience hyperpigmentation, which are the red/dark marks left after acne heal. February 25,2019
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