Acne – Causes, Signs, Symptoms & Prevention

Acne is a big concern, especially for women in their 20s. However, it would be wrong to say that men don’t suffer from acne. To many, acne is also known as blemishes, blackheads, whiteheads, pimples or cysts. It is most common during puberty and adolescence.

According to recent data, almost 80 per cent of people in the age group of 11 to 30 years have acne outbreak at least once. Having said that, even adults are not fully immune. The number is low, but people in their 40s and 50s also get acne. There are also cases when a woman does not suffer from acne during teen but gets it in adulthood before her menstrual cycle.So what exactly is acne?

Your skin has small holes (pores) that are connected to the oil glands lying under the skin through follicles. These glands are responsible for producing sebum, an oily substance. When these follicles get clogged, it leads to the outburst of acne. The reason acne occurs more around puberty or at the time of hormonal changes, is because there is excess secretion of oil.

Acne, most commonly, does not have any serious health concern, but are distressing for the sufferer. Having said that, not all acne-like skin problems should be left untreated. Sometimes acne can have a more serious underlying cause such as polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD). The faster the issue is diagnosed, more effective will be its treatment.Acne should not be treated with antibiotics but can be fixed with certain dietary changes. For example, avoiding oily foods, preservatives, sweeteners, having two liters of mineral water along with having foods rich in Vitamin B6 helps dealing with acne.Oil-based products make acne worse, so do oil-based cosmetics. So for people with a family history of acute acne, must opt for water based products.

Acne causes

“Acne is basically a skin manifestation resulting from the action of fluctuating hormone levels and other substances on the skin’s oil glands (sebaceous glands) and hair follicles. These factors lead to plugged pores and outbreaks of lesions commonly called Acne lesions or pimples. These lesions usually occur on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Low estrogen levels, stress, improper cleansing, excessive use of creams and cosmetics often result in aggravating Acne lesions,” says Dr Ramanjit Singh, Senior Consultant, Department of Dermatology and Cosmetology, Medanta The Medicity.

Other causes include:


If either of your parents had Acne, it is more likely that you will also develop Acne.


Sex hormones called Androgens increase in boys and girls during puberty and cause the follicular glands to enlarge and make more sebum leading to Acne. Many medical conditions can also induce a high-androgen state. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and the use of oral contraceptives can also affect sebum production.


The connection between diet and Acne is unclear as there are no clear indications of a definitive link. Though, some studies have indicated that dairy products, carbohydrate-rich foods and chocolates worsen the severity of Acne.


Some studies indicate that stress causes or worsens Acne, while some others have refuted it.


Certain medications are known to have worsened Acne. These include steroids and anticonvulsant medications.

Pressure on skin

Items like helmets, collars, phones, etc. can cause a pressure on skin and lead to Acne.

Acne symptoms

Severity of Acne would determine the symptoms. They can include:

1. Whiteheads – These are closed plugged pores

2. Blackheads – These are open plugged pores that turn brown after exposure to air

3. Red, tender bumps known as papules

4. Pimples that contain pus at their tips known as pustules

5. Large and painful lumps under the surface of the skin called nodules

6. Painful and pus – filled lumps under the surface of the skin called cystic lesions

Sometimes, pigmentation also occurs as a result of Acne lesions. But they usually fade away with time but deeper scars, if left untreated, can last up to years and even a lifetime.

Acne prevention

A dermatologist can help you treat your Acne with medications that reduce oil production, fight bacterial infection, and reduce inflammation. Medications can also speed up skin cell turnover. The medication for Acne can include retinoid (creams, gels, lotions), antibiotics (both application on skin based and oral), dapsone gel, anti-androgen agent, or Isotretinoin for a severe case of Acne.

Following can be taken care of at home to avoid Acne:

Change your lifestyle
Sleep eight hours, eat three meals, and drink plenty of water in a day.

Open your pores
Get your blackheads removed during facial.

Skin care
Keep your face clean and wash it once or twice a day with mild cleansing bars


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