What is acne?

Acne is a skin problem. It happens when the skin gets clogged with oil, which causes pimples.

What is the cause?

Most teenagers get acne. During these years, hormones cause more body hair to grow and the skin gets oilier. The skin pores (where the hairs grow out) sometimes get clogged with oil and bacteria.

What are the symptoms?

You may have:

  • blackheads (plugged oil glands with black tips)
  • whiteheads (pimples)
  • red bumps that may hurt or be filled with pus.

In very bad cases, you may get a cyst. A cyst is a bump that forms under the skin. It is larger than a pimple.

How is it treated?

Your healthcare provider may give you:

  • soaps or lotions
  • gel to dry up the acne
  • lotion or gel with an antibiotic in it to put on your skin in the places where you get acne
  • skin creams with Retin-A to prevent pimples
  • Antibiotics

Sometimes you will need to use more than 1 medicine at a time to treat the acne.

How can I take care of myself?

Follow your healthcare provider’s advice. It’s also a good idea to:

  • Wash your face 1 to 2 times a day with a gentle soap like Cetaphil or Purpose. Change your washcloth every day. Bacteria can grow on damp cloth.
  • Wash your hands often. Keep your hands away from your face as much as possible.
  • Do not squeeze, pick, scratch, or rub your pimples. You may spread infection and get scars.
  • Shampoo your hair at least twice a week. Keep your hair away from your face during the day and at night while you sleep.
  • Wash as soon as you can after you exercise.
  • If certain foods seem to make your acne worse, do not eat those foods.
  • Try not to work in hot kitchens where greasy foods are cooked.
  • Try not to get sunburned.
  • Try not to become stressed. Take some quiet time, get exercise, or talk to a counselor if needed.
  • Keep your follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider. Keep a record of the medicines you have tried. Write down how they have worked. Let your provider know if your medicine isn’t working. Don’t give up. Keep working with your provider until you find a way to keep your skin clear.