What Is Acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It typically manifests as pimples, blackheads, or whiteheads, and commonly appears on the face, forehead, chest, upper back, and shoulders. Acne can vary in severity, from mild to severe forms such as cystic acne, which is characterized by deep, painful pimples, nodules, and cysts. Treatment options for acne depend on its severity and may include topical creams, oral medications, and procedures such as chemical peels or laser therapy.

What Are the Causes of Acne?

Excess oil production

The sebaceous glands in the skin produce an oily substance called sebum, which helps lubricate and protect the skin. However, when the glands produce too much sebum, it can mix with dead skin cells and clog hair follicles, leading to the formation of acne lesions.

Clogged pores

Dead skin cells are shed regularly, but sometimes they don’t shed properly and can accumulate on the skin’s surface, mixing with sebum to form a plug that blocks the pore. This plug, known as a comedone, can manifest as either a whitehead (closed comedone) or a blackhead (open comedone), depending on whether the pore is closed or open to the skin’s surface.


Propionibacterium acnes, a type of bacteria that normally resides on the skin, can multiply rapidly in clogged pores, leading to inflammation and the formation of acne lesions. The presence of bacteria in the pores can also contribute to the production of inflammatory substances that further aggravate acne.

Hormonal factors

Hormonal fluctuations, particularly during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, can stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, making individuals more prone to developing acne. Hormonal changes can also affect the shedding of skin cells and the composition of sebum, further contributing to acne development.


There is evidence to suggest that genetics play a role in determining an individual’s susceptibility to acne. If one or both parents have a history of acne, their offspring may be more likely to develop acne as well.

Certain medications and cosmetics

Some medications, such as corticosteroids, androgens, and lithium, can exacerbate acne by influencing hormone levels or increasing oil production. Additionally, certain cosmetic products, particularly those that are oil-based or comedogenic, can clog pores and contribute to acne development.


While the relationship between diet and acne is complex and not fully understood, some studies suggest that certain dietary factors, such as high glycemic index foods and dairy products, may exacerbate acne in some individuals. However, more research is needed to establish a definitive link between diet and acne.

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