How Do You Get Acne?

Reviewed on 7/2/2021

Acne is a skin condition that causes pimples, papules, pustules, or nodules to appear on the skin anywhere on the body. Acne is caused by clogged pores, which can be attributed to many causes, including hormones, inflammation, stress, and genetics.
Acne is a skin condition that causes pimples, papules, pustules, or nodules to appear on the skin anywhere on the body. Acne is caused by clogged pores, which can be attributed to many causes, including hormones, inflammation, stress, and genetics.

Acne is a common skin condition in which pimples, papules, pustules, or nodules develop on the skin. Acne often appears on the face, chest, upper back, and shoulders but can occur almost anywhere on the body.

Acne is caused by clogged pores, which result from: 

  • Hormones 
    • Acne is common during puberty and adolescence, when hormones increase
  • Inflammation 
    • Inflammation causes redness and soreness 
  • Stress 
    • Stress can affect hormones that can cause acne
    • Females experience this more often than males
  • Genetics
    • Acne often runs in families

Acne is diagnosed with a skin examination by a dermatologist. There are other skin conditions that can look like acne, but they are not, and different treatment is needed. This is why it is important to get a diagnosis of acne from a dermatologist to rule out conditions that have a similar appearance. 

What Does Acne Look Like?

Acne has the following characteristics:

  • Papules: small, red, tender bumps 
  • Pustules: papules with pus at the tip 
  • Whiteheads: closed plugged pores
  • Blackheads: open plugged pores
  • Nodules: large, painful, solid lumps under the skin 
  • Cystic lesions: pus-filled, painful lumps under the skin 

How Do You Get Rid of Acne?

Mild or moderate acne can often be treated at home. Home treatments to prevent or treat acne include: 

  • Wash twice daily and after sweating and rinse with lukewarm water
  • Use gentle, non-abrasive cleanser and apply with fingertips
    • Don’t scrub skin and avoid washcloths or sponges that can irritate the skin
  • Use gentle products on the skin
    • Use alcohol-free products
    • Use products that don’t cause acne — look for the following words on product labels: 
      • Non-comedogenic
      • Oil free
      • Won't clog pores
      • Non-acnegenic
    • Avoid products that can irritate skin because they can aggravate acne
  • Don’t use too many products at once, because this can worsen acne
    • The American Academy of Dermatology recommends use of a single acne treatment for at least 4 to 6 weeks to allow it time to work
    • If there is not a noticeable improvement after that time, add a second product to your treatment regimen. 
  • Shampoo oily hair daily
  • Don’t pick, squeeze, or pop pimples
    • Picking at acne can make it take longer to go away and may increase the risk of scarring
  • Avoid touching the face because bacteria on the fingers can enter pores and cause acne
  • Avoid the sun and tanning beds
    • Ultraviolet (UV) light damages the skin
    • Some acne medications can cause the skin to be more sensitive to UV light
  • Regularly wash all items that touch acne-prone skin, such as pillowcases and hats
    • Change sheets at least every week and pillowcases two to three times each week

Medications to treat acne include: 

  • Topical medications 
    • Benzoyl peroxide 
    • Salicylic acid
    • Retinoids, such as adapalene gel
    • Azelaic acid 
    • Benzoyl peroxide plus a retinoid or a topical antibiotic 
  • Birth control pills or patches approved to treat acne may be prescribed for women with acne

Treatments for more severe cases of acne include: 

  • Laser or light therapy
    • Works best combined with other acne treatments
  • Corticosteroid injections
    • Used for large, painful, deep acne breakouts
    • Relieves pain and inflammation quickly
    • Only used to treat a few severe acne breakouts due to possible side effects 

SLIDESHOW

Skin Health: 15 Tips for Clear Skin See Slideshow

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Reviewed on 7/2/2021
References
https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne

https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/DIY/wont-clear

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/treatment-of-acne-vulgaris?search=acne&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1 https://www.uptodate.com/contents/pathogenesis-clinical-manifestations-and-diagnosis-of-acne-vulgaris?search=acne&source=search_result&selectedTitle=2~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=2