Nearly 17 million people in the United States have acne, making it one of the most
common skin diseases in the USA. Although acne is not a serious health threat,
severe acne can lead to disfiguring, permanent scarring, which can be upsetting for
people who have it.
This reference summary will help you understand what acne is and how it can be
Our body is covered with hair, except for a few areas. Some of the hair is very smooth
and barely noticeable.
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Last reviewed: 3/6/2008
Hair is made of a chemical compound called keratin,
which is made inside the skin by the hair follicle.
Small glands located around hair follicles produce an
oily substance called sebum. These glands are
called sebaceous glands. Sebum seeps onto the
skin surface through the opening of the follicle.
Together, the hair follicle and sebaceous glands
around it are called a pilosebaceous unit.
Pilosebaceous units are biggest and most abundant
on the face, upper back, and the chest. These are areas where acne tends to show up.
Acne is a disorder of the skin’s sebaceous glands that results in clogged pores and
lesions, commonly called pimples or zits. Acne lesions usually occur on the face,
neck, back, chest, and shoulders.
Acne occurs when sebum is not able to pass through the hair follicle. Cells from the
lining of the follicle are shed too fast and clump together, plugging up the follicle’s