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MAIN Arrow to Health Health Arrow to Acne Acne

popping a pimpleAcne, which is also known as acne vulgaris (or, in the vernacular - zits or pimples) is a condition most associated with teenagers although acne can affect anyone at any age.

It is usually seen on the face although outbreaks are just as common on the neck, chest, shoulders and back.

It has several different possible causes, and acne treatment is a booming industry - as many different new products become available on the market, some more effective than others.

While the main causes of common acne are up for debate, it is generally believed that is a combination of factors that may have to be confronted all at once to be effective in the battle against acne and for maintaining overall skin health.

What causes acne?

Some of the most common causes of acne are bacteria in the pores of the face; excess amounts of stress, skin irritation or inflamed skin, hormones, or genetic predisposition.

Many supposed causes of severe acne, such as poor hygiene, have been downplayed recently. Yet occasional outbreaks of zits or pimples can be avoided with proper cleansing that can help unblock oily pores and prevent bacteria from entering the skin. Getting proper rest and exercise can also go a long way in getting rid of acne and help ward off the emotional stress associated with outbreaks or the effects of acne scars.

diagram of what triggers whiteheads and blackheads

  • An oily substance called sebum (produced by the sebaceous gland) becomes blocked, and produces a blackhead (left) or whitehead (right).

  • Contrary to popular belief, a blackhead is not caused by dirt, but is a common discoloration of sebum when it is exposed to air.

Meanwhile, poor diet is one debunked cause of acne that is currently being re-examined. Recently, new studies have found that milk can at least partially cause acne, along with evidence to suggest that countries which drink less milk and consume fewer carbohydrates report a much lower percentage of acne.

Acne treatment & prevention

Treating acne is often a long term undertaking. Most acne treatment takes about three months to make a real difference, rather than the two weeks that many acne treatments on the market advertise.

There are many different treatments for acne, but generally a treatment will fall in to one of four categories: preventing pore blockage (which also causes blackheads); killing bacteria which causes pimples; fighting inflammation; and manipulating hormones.

In addition to conventional treatments, there are many other remedies that can be prescribed by a doctor, such as antibacterials, and cortisone creams to help with inflammation. Over the counter treatments, such as aloe vera, help heal and soothe the skin. However, proper nutrition and proper amounts of rest can also be one of the most effective home remedies for avoiding outbreaks.

In addition to currently available treatments, there is ongoing research such as a vaccine for inflammatory acne which has been successful in animal trials, although more studies have to be undertaken before its application to human treatment.

Genetic sequencing of the bacteria which causes pimples has also been carried out in the hope that this new information will give scientists an upper hand in developing more effective treatments in the future for those more predisposed to acne.

More information about acne around the Web: - What is acne? - Expert information and related photos explaining common blackheads, whiteheads, postules, nodules and other forms of acne with more on severe cases and their treatment.

MedicineNet - Acne (Pimples) - A detailed discussion on causes and treatment, tips on a proper skin cleaning regimen, when to see a doctor, prescription and over-the-counter medications, picture slideshow.

How to Get Rid of Acne - Advice on proper sleep habits and nutrition, home remedies and cleansers, related warnings and tips on how to pop a pimple, instructional video.


This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.


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