Font Size


Acne vulgaris (acne) is a common skin condition that occurs when oil and dead skin cells clog the skin's pores. Pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads are forms of acne.

Skin glands can produce more oil than the skin needs to stay moist. Too much oil can mix with dead skin cells and can clog pores. This sometimes results in bacterial infection. Acne most often develops on a person's face, neck, chest, shoulders, or back.

Acne is most common in teens and young adults, but it can also affect infants and older adults. It may begin at any time and last throughout a person's life. How much acne and where it appears vary from person to person. Some people only have a pimple from time to time. Others may have a lot of pimples most of the time.

Some cases of mild acne can be controlled with nonprescription medicines at home. But severe acne needs prescription medicines to prevent scarring.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerAlexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology
Last RevisedFebruary 3, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Medical Dictionary