F r e q u e n t l y A s k e d q u e s t i o n s
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health
Q: What is acne?
A: Acne is a disorder that causes outbreaks
of skin lesions commonly called pim-
ples. It is caused by the skin’s oil glands
making too much sebum, an oily sub-
stance, which leads to plugged pores. It
also can be caused by the rapid produc-
tion of a bacteria P. acnes.
Acne lesions occur mostly on the
face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders.
It is the most common skin disease.
Although acne is not a serious health
threat, severe acne can lead to disfigur-
ing and permanent scarring.
Q: How does acne affect women?
A: Most young women and men will have
at least a few pimples over the course of
their lives. But acne seems to affect men
and women in different ways. Young
men are more likely to have a more
serious form of acne. Acne in young
women tends to be more random and
linked to hormone changes, such as the
As women get older, acne often gets
better. But some women have acne for
many years. Some women even get
acne for the first time at age 30 or 40.
For many women, acne can be an
upsetting illness. Women may have
feelings of depression, poor body image,
or low self-esteem. But you don’t have
to wait to outgrow acne or to let it run
its course. Today, almost every case of
acne can be resolved. Acne also can,
sometimes, be prevented. Talk with
your doctor or dermatologist (a doctor
who specializes in treating skin prob-
lems) about how you can help prevent
acne and if treatment would help you.
Q: What are the different types of
A: • Comedo (whiteheads or black-
heads) or papules. The comedo
is the basic acne lesion, which is a
plugged pore. If the plugged pore
stays under the skin, it’s called a
closed comedo and forms a white
bump or whitehead. Blackheads are
comedos that open up and appear
blackish on the surface of the skin.