Learn about Acne: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Acne occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dirt. It can appear almost anywhere on the body but is most commonly found on the face, back, shoulder, neck, and chest. It can affect people of all ages, but it most commonly affects teenagers. There are treatments available for acne, but it can be a reoccurring problem for many people. Acne can cause scars on the skin and even lead to infections and other skin problems.

Causes of Acne

There are several things that can cause acne. Some people are more likely to get it than others, and, in many cases, it is hereditary. Some common causes of acne include:

  • Oily skin
  • Clogged hair follicles
  • Bacteria
  • Excess hormones
  • Certain beauty products
  • Poor diet
  • Stress
  • Certain medications

Symptoms of Acne

The symptoms of acne can vary based on the sufferer’s skin type and the severity of the condition. Some of the most common symptoms of acne include,

Diagnosis of Acne

Doctors can usually diagnose acne with a simple exam. Many patients are referred to dermatologists, who can help determine the causes of the acne and more easily come up with a treatment plan for the patient. In some cases, the doctor or dermatologist might take scrapings from the skin to make sure the lesions are caused by acne and not the result of any other skin disorders or conditions.

Treatment of Acne

There are several different treatment options available for people suffering from acne. Some of the most common treatment options include:

  • Topical Medications: Retinoids, antibiotics, and azelaic acid are all topical medications that can help unclog the hair follicles, reduce oily skin, and treat infections that could make the acne worse. Some topical medications are available over the counter, and others require a prescription.
  • Oral Medications: Oral medications, such as antibiotics, Isotretinoin, and oral contraceptives for young women, can help block hormones that can cause acne. They can also prevent infections that can make acne worse or that are caused by picking or scratching at the lesions.
  • Laser Therapy: Laser therapy involves directing a laser at the acne to help unclog the hair follicles. Different laser strengths are used for different stages of acne.
  • Chemical Peels: Chemical peels treat acne by applying chemicals to the face and then peeling them off. The peel removes oil from the skin and can unclog the follicles.
  • Extraction: Once lesions have healed, whiteheads and blackheads can be extracted to avoid worsening the condition. This type of treatment can cause scarring, though.
  • Steroid Injections: Large legions can be treated with steroid injections. It’s an effective way to treat severe acne.

Prognosis of Acne

People suffering from acne have a good prognosis. It can take some time to find a treatment that works, but once that treatment is found, most people find that their acne clears up. Identifying underlying causes is also important. Once the acne is gone, some people still suffer from scars caused by the lesions.


  • American College of Dermatology