Causes of ACNE

Acne     Acne can occur anywhere on the body apart from the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. The most common areas to be affected are the face, neck, chest, back, scalp, upper arms, and buttocks. Most teen-agers between the ages of 12 and 17 will experience occasional breakouts. This condition is not only associated with teenagers. Acne can continue to affect individuals well into their late twenties and even into their forties. In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that of 749 adults between the ages of 25 and 58, 54% of women and 40% of men had some form of acne.


  • Papules – Red spots (inflammation) caused by overproduction of sebum.
  • Whiteheads – A mixture of too much sebum and dead skin cells.
  • Blackheads – An excess of sebum and dead skin cells that partially blocks the hair canal. When the excess mixture is pushed to the skin’s surface, it becomes discolored (appears black).
  • Pustules – Pus-filled yellow bumps that usually require medical attention from a health care professional.
  • Cysts (Nodules) – Large, deep-seated, pus-filled, often painful lumps.

How ACNE Develops

See also Why Acne Develops

Cross Section

Skin is composed of two parts. The upper part is the epidermis and contains skin cells; the lower part is the dermis and contains collagen, which helps to support the epidermis. The cells of the skin continue to divide, grow, and mature. Once these mature cells reach the surface of the skin, they eventually die and are shed. Each of our pores leads to a canal from which hairs grow. In each canal is a gland that produces an oily substance called sebum. The sebum lubricates the hair and protects the surface of the skin. If too much sebum is produced, it may clog up the canal and cause acne. Scientists are not sure why too much sebum is produced, but it may be due to a reaction to testosterone.


Clear Face


Although there is no cure for acne, a number of steps may be taken to help control and prevent flare-ups.

  • Eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water
  • Exercising regularly to help eliminate toxins from the body and improve circulation
  • Avoiding oil-based cosmetics which may clog pores
  • Washing with mild antibacterial soaps
  • Shampooing often, especially oily hair
  • Avoiding the use of greasy products such as petroleum jelly, cocoa butter, cold cream, and vitamin E oil


Your health care professional will help you to determine which of these medications is best for you. Most of these treatments take from six to eight weeks to work. At that point, if you are not seeing results, your medication may be switched to another.

The goal in treating acne is to control flare-ups and prevent scars. Years of untreated acne may leave a lifelong imprint on a person’s face and result in a poor self-image.

  • Nonprescription – There are a number of topical medications available over the counter in cream, lotion, gel, or liquid forms to treat mild cases of acne. These include products that contain benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. They are not very effective for more serious forms of acne.
  • Prescription – Prescription medications for acne usually come in two forms: topical and oral. The following is a partial list of those most commonly prescribed.
    • clindamycin
    • doxycycline
    • tetracycline
    • azelaic acid (cream)
    • oral retinoids (isotretinoin)
    • erythromycin
    • minocycline
    • topical retinoids (adapalene, tazarotene, tretinoin)
    • oral contraceptives

The topical medications should be applied all over the affected areas as directed and not just solely on the visible pimples. In some cases, the medications may cause the face to become a little dry, pink, or tight. While this is normal, in the event the skin gets too irritated, the medication should not be stopped, but the frequency of the application should be reduced.

US Pharmacist
Copyright 2003 Jobson Publishing, LLC