Acne is a skin condition that causes pimples or "zits." Whiteheads, blackheads, and red, inflamed patches of skin (such as cysts) may develop.
Acne vulgaris; Cystic acne; Pimples; Zits
Acne occurs when tiny holes on the surface of the skin become clogged. These holes are called pores.
- Each pore opens to a follicle. A follicle contains a hair and an oil gland. The oil released by the gland helps remove old skin cells and keeps your skin soft.
- When glands produce too much oil, the pores can become blocked. Dirt, bacteria, and inflammatory cells build up. The blockage is called a plug or comedone.
- If the top of the plug is white, it is called a whitehead.
- If the top of the plug is dark, it is called a blackhead.
- If the plug breaks open, swelling and red bumps occur.
- Acne that is deep in your skin can cause hard, painful cysts. This is called nodulocystic acne.
Acne is most common in teenagers, but anyone can get acne, even babies. The problem tends to run in families.
Some things that may trigger acne include:
- Hormonal changes that make the skin oilier. These may be related to puberty, menstrual periods, pregnancy, birth control pills, or stress.
- Greasy or oily cosmetic and hair products.
- Certain drugs (such as steroids, testosterone, estrogen, and phenytoin).
- Heavy sweating and humidity.
Research does not show that chocolate, nuts, and greasy foods cause acne. However, diets high in refined sugars or dairy products may be related to acne in some people.