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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.

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