PATIENT EDUCATION HANDOUTS
What is acne vulgaris?
Acne vulgaris, or acne, is a skin problem that starts when oil and dead skin cells clog up
your pores. Some people call it blackheads, blemishes, whiteheads, pimples, or zits.
When you have just a few red spots, or pimples, you have a mild form of acne. Severe
acne can mean hundreds of pimples that can cover the face, neck, chest, and back. Or, it
can be bigger, solid, red lumps that are painful (cysts).
Most young people get at least mild acne. It usually gets better after the teen years. But many adult women
do have acne in the days before their menstrual periods.
How you feel about your acne may not be related to how bad it is. Some people with severe acne are not
bothered by it. Others are embarrassed or upset even though they have only a few pimples.
The good news is that there are many good treatments that can help you get acne under control.
What causes acne?
Acne starts when oil and dead skin cells clog the skin's pores. If germs get into the pores, the result can be
swelling, redness, and pus. See a picture of how pimples form
For most people, acne starts during the teen years. This is because hormone changes make the skin more
oily after puberty starts.
You do not get acne from eating chocolate or greasy foods. But you can make it worse by using oily skin
products that clog your pores.
Acne can run in families. If one of your parents had severe acne, you are more likely to have it.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of acne include whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. These can occur on the face, neck,
shoulders, back, or chest. Pimples that are large and deep are called cystic lesions. These can be painful if
they get infected. They also can scar the skin.
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How is acne treated?
To help control acne, keep your skin clean. Avoid skin products that clog your pores. Look for products
that say "noncomedogenic" on the label. Wash your