What is Acne

Acne is a condition of the skin caused when the oil glands located within the skin go into overproduction and produce too much oil. This oil, which in normal production capacity lubricates the skin, gets trapped in the pores of the skin, irritating and inflaming them. The oil is trapped within the ducts located just under the skin and results in acne. Acne, also commonly referred to as pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads, is then visible on the surface of the skin.

Some areas of the skin are more prone to acne than others. Areas of the skin which contain the largest number of oil glands are the areas more likely to produce acne. Although the majority of people think of the face first when thinking of acne, areas such as the back, neck, shoulders and chest are also prone to acne outbreaks.

Different types of acne inflammation include:

- Pimples- Pimples are smaller swellings under the skin which may or may not contain pus.
- Blackheads- Blackheads are a common type of acne which is caused when oil and skin cells both become trapped in the ducts. Due to the addition of the skin cells, blackheads are visible as small black dots on the skin area.
- Whiteheads- Whiteheads are also caused by a blockage of the pores of the skin. Whiteheads are generally flesh- colored or white. Whiteheads are similar to blackheads, without the addition of trapped skin cells.
- Cystic Acne- Cystic Acne is caused when the oil sacs inflame further beneath the skin. They generally contain pus, blood, and may also contain other semisolid substances. Unlike pimples or whiteheads or blackheads, cystic acne sacs are closed and reside just below the outer surface of the skin.

Blackheads can also turn black simply by virtue of exposure to the air. Dirt and dust may also become clogged in the oil duct or skin follicle and cause blackheads. Blackheads are generally larger than whiteheads. Whiteheads are the smallest type of common acne. Due to the closing of the skin pores, dirt and dust and skin cells do not have a chance to mix with the oil that is blocked. Thus, they are able to remain white or flesh-colored.

Pimples are the most common form of acne. Whereas blackheads and whiteheads generally sit flat upon the skin, pimples are raised bumps on the skin that usually contain a pustule substance that is a mixture of oil, white blood cells, and bacteria. The white blood cells rush to fight off the bacteria and become trapped within the ducts along with the oil and bacteria. The bacterium is not dangerous, merely unattractive.

Although acne is commonly thought of as a problem faced by teens and adolescents, adults may find themselves with an onset of acne flare-ups. In fact, many adults who escaped severe acne problems during their teenage years, may find that their acne problems were merely delayed. Men and women in their late forties and fifties have even found themselves battling acne.