We can all say we have had one form of acne or another over our lifetime. “Common acne” is an occasional pimple or blackhead outbreak, usually on the face, neck, back, or chest.
Acne starts when oily secretions from the oil (sebaceous) glands clog the small opening for hair follicles (pores). When these openings are large, the plugged pores may take the form of blackheads, a flat, tiny spot with a dark center or head. When they stay small, they form the flesh-coloured bump known as whiteheads.
Both forms can develop into tender, swollen inflammations known as pimples. These are deeper lumps or nodules and accompany cystic acne (the more severe form of acne). Cystic acne is firm swellings below the skin’s surface which develop into tender, inflamed, and at times infected skin sores.
Although largely a curse of adolescence, approximately 20% of acne cases occur in adults. Acne typically starts with puberty and is worse with patients who have oily skin. Adolescent acne lasts from five to ten years, diminishing in the patient’s early twenties. Teenage boys tend to have the worse cases, although girls can suffer as well. As adults, women tend to be more likely to have mild to moderate cases in their 30s and beyond.