Acne: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Acne: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Acne is a skin disease associated with hair follicles of the chest, back, and majorly the face. It affects almost all teenagers during puberty except the few primitive Neolithic tribes living in isolation.

About 18 million people in America have acne, making it one of the most common skin conditions among teenagers and adults. Although it’s usually associated with hormonal fluctuations experienced during the teenage years, adults can also develop it. It’s primarily a hormonal condition steered by male or ‘androgenic hormones, which become effective during the teenage years. 

Furthermore, bacteria is not the leading cause as most people believe, although it plays a role in its development. In addition, it is common for some people to develop it in their mid to late 20s.

The skin has many tiny holes called” pores” that can become blocked by bacteria, oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. When this occurs, you may develop acne or pimple. This skin condition occurs when your hair follicles become connected with oil, dirt, and dead skin cells, which causes whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples.

Although it can affect any part of the body, acne that appears on the face can affect people’s self-esteem. Over time, it may cause permanent physical scarring and stigmatization.

In addition, it’s possible to have more than one type at once, which may be noninflammatory or inflammatory, and some severe cases may warrant a visit to a dermatologist.

What are the symptoms of acne?

Acne can be found virtually anywhere on the body, but it’s most common to develop on your face, chest, neck, back, and shoulders. If a person has acne, he/she will typically notice pimples that are either white or black.

Both blackheads and whiteheads are generally known as comedones. Whiteheads and blackheads are the most familiar lesions seen in acne though other types can also occur, and inflammatory lesions are more likely to cause scarring of your skin.

Symptoms or signs include the following, and they vary depending on the severity of your condition;

  • Whiteheads
  • Blackheads
  • Papules (small red raised bumps that are caused by inflamed hair follicles)
  • Pimples (pustules) (often red papules with pus at the tips)
  • Large, solid, painful lumps under the skin (nodules)
  • Painful, large pus-filled lumps under the skin (cystic lesions)

Causes of acne

Acne often appears on the areas of skin that have the most oil (sebaceous) glands, such as the face, chest, forehead, and shoulders.

Hair follicles are connected to oil glands. Pimples are usually red spots with a white center which often happens due to bacteria infecting the blocked hair follicles or the hair follicles being inflamed.

Blockages and inflammation deep inside hair follicles then produce cyst-like lumps below the surface of your skin. Though it is actually a normal physiologic occurrence, certain conditions may aggravate the situation.

The main causes include: 

  • Excess oil (sebum) production- Sebum (oil) is a natural substance that lubricates and protects the skin.
  • Clogging of hair follicles by oil and dead skin cells
  • Bacteria
  • Inflammation
  • Fluctuating hormone levels around the time of menstrual cycle in women
  • Hereditary
  • Cosmetics

Certain things that may trigger or worsen acne:

Hormonal changes: Hormones such as androgens that increase in both boys and girls during puberty may cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more sebum(oil), leading to more acne. 

Medications: Certain drugs, especially those containing corticosteroids, testosterone, or lithium, may exacerbate it.

Diet: Recent studies indicate that consuming certain foods, including carbohydrate-rich foods, such as bread, chips, and sugars, may worsen it. 

Stress: Stress generally does not cause acne, but if a person already has acne, it may worsen it.


Many studies of acne drugs have involved people 13 years of age or older, and some guidelines from the American Academy of Dermatology. These studies indicate that topical benzoyl peroxide, adapalene, and tretinoin effectively treat acne and don’t cause an increased risk of side effects. In addition, its medications work effectively by reducing oil(sebum) production/swelling or treating bacterial contagion.

  Below are the three major treatments;

  1. Therapies: the following therapies are helpful for people suffering from acne
  •   Light therapy
  •   Chemical peel
  •   Drainage and extraction
  •   Steroid injection
  1. Topical medications: Azelaic acid and salicylic acid, antibiotics, retinoid, and retinoid-like drugs are excellent topical description medications.
  2. Oral medications: These include isotretinoin, antibiotics, anti-androgen agents, and combined oral contraceptives. They’re an excellent cure for moderate and severe acne. 



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